Networking accounts for approximately 85 per cent of the job offers people receive during their careers, suggests Workopolis.com job site.
But there is a catch.
Good networking doesn’t stop after the event says Eleanor Edwards, manager of mentoring projects for Youth In Motion.
“You want to get to know people before you need them. It’s what you know about someone and what you do with that information that will help you get from point A to B but only once you've established a relationship,” Edwards says.
Catherine Ducharme, principal of Ducharme & Associates communications management company agrees that networking is a life-long process.
“Networking is about planting seeds and in my experience you do reap what you sow. It’s not about randomly showing up at events without a plan of action, without knowing what you can offer someone or about asking strangers for your dream job,” Ducharme says.
For Andrea Chrysanthou, a producer at MuchMusic who is often approached by those who wish to pursue their careers on-air, being sincere is an important part of networking.
“There’s nothing worse than people who are phony or who approach you pretending to be your friend — striking up a conversation when you know all they want is to use you for a contact,” Chrysanthou says.
In networking situations Chrysanthou is most impressed by those who introduce themselves assertively but who are concise with their introduction.
“It’s a networking event but people really also want to socialize so it’s not the best place to have a full length conversation. Introduce yourself and give a firm handshake,” she says.
While it might be appropriate at an information interview to inquire about industry salaries, it’s not encouraged to ask people at these types of questions at networking events.
“Don’t sell yourself. Listen, too,” says James Coburn, vice-president of Mandrake Management Consultants. “Don’t be afraid to write down your contact information if you don’t have a card. Always ask for the other person’s card first. This shows initiative on your part as well as a keen interest in them first.”
For business writer Caroline Levchuck, attending the event is one thing, but knowing how to act and what to say is another. Levchuck likes to prepare an elevator pitch — a short three-minute introduction — and practise it beforehand networking events. From her own experience at networking events, Levchuck encourages networkers to do some research on who the speakers are beforehand and who might likely attend.
“That will make you all that more knowledgeable when you approach potential contacts you want to make,” Levchuck says.
For more tips on networking visit:
• Arrive early so you can speak with organizers and key speakers before the crowd arrives.
• Don’t hand out business cards randomly. Keep track of who gets your card. Make notes on the back as to what you discussed with them.