Two Ways to Make Network Connections

by Donlin, Kevin Thursday, August 27, 2009
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If you’re job hunting and want to meet more people who can hire you, here are two ways to do it:

1) Follow Growth

If you’re looking for a job, go where the action is — growing companies are more likely to hire than failing ones.

And a great tool for finding signs of growth is LinkedIn, according to personal branding coach Otis Collier.

“I research companies on LinkedIn to find out who has been recently promoted, which shows which departments may be hiring and what jobs they may need to fill.”

This can help you find places within a company to make connections that lead to interviews.

Example: Choose the “Search Companies” option on LinkedIn, type in Apple, and you’ll find two lists of interest: New Hires, and Recent Promotions and Changes. Both of these show departments at Apple that may be growing.

You’ll also see which names, if any, are in your 1st level and extended networks, so you know whom to contact for information about the hiring climate.

2) Network at Conferences

Here’s another tip from Collier: Make connections at conferences put on by organizations and groups you belong to.

“Networking is still the #1 way people find jobs, and attending a conference is a prime chance to network,” says Collier.

Problem: It’s impossible to meet the hundreds of attendees at a typical conference.

Solution: Do your homework and create a targeted list of people to make connections with.

Collier suggests the following method.

Before attending a conference, search LinkedIn for the organization’s name. You will find all the people who listed membership in their profile. Then, do an advanced search to cull the list down by job titles or areas of expertise. Print the best names and bring them to the conference.

You now have a “shopping list” of people to meet. When you register, ask for a printout of all attendees. Use this to determine which people on your list you can connect with.

What if you or the people on your list don’t attend the conference? Contact them anyway, by email or phone. Mention your membership in the same organization and you’ll have an instant affinity, which makes them more likely to speak with you.

No matter how you meet people, remember this: When having a networking conversation, be coy.

Don’t ask, “I’m looking for a job — do you know anyone who’s hiring?” You may look desperate and put people off.

Instead, say, “Hi, I was hoping you could help me. I’m looking for information about XYZ company. Because you work(ed) there, would you have 3 minutes for a brief conversation?”

There are 3 key principles in those last 3 sentences, so pay attention:

1. Most people will help, if you ask politely.

2. Saying one word — because — when asking a favor, often gets compliance, as detailed in the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. Try it.

3. Always give a time limit. At the end, say, “Well, it’s been 3 minutes. I’ll let you go, unless you have a couple more minutes.” Respect others’ time and they will respect you.

Now, go out and make your own luck!