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BOB LANKARD: Avoid networking turnoffs

by on August 10, 2014 1:49 AM

Networking is one of the best ways to find a job, but it can be tricky.

A networker can do things that will turn off their contact.

Do not ask unproductive questions. Instead, job seekers should ask open-ended questions when making networking contacts.

An unproductive question would be, “Do you like working as a nurse?” A much better question would be, “What happens during the third shift when you are a hospital nurse?” Other good questions could be: “What frustrates you most about your job?” Or, “if you suddenly became unemployed where would you look for work in your field?” The goal is to keep them talking.

After a job seeker has finished talking to a contact, write down what was said while it is fresh in your mind. This means having a notepad and pen with you at all times, especially when you are planning a contact.

Don’t call business people during their busy time of the day.

“I tried that networking once and it seemed like they were preoccupied with something else and just wanted to get it over with,” a frustrated job seeker told me once.

There is no absolute rule to follow to avoid interrupting a business person at a busy time. As one who contacted employers regarding their hiring needs, I found it best to contact business people early or late in the work day.

Avoid the, “Hey, buddy, got any job tips?” technique.

The “hey, buddy” line is an extreme example of some people’s approach to networking. They are so focused on leads that they lose sight of the person. Instead, take time to develop a relationship with your contact.

Perhaps you have information that would be helpful to them. The “hey, buddy” networkers come across as one who is taking advantage of them. Networking is a process where there is mutual give and take.

Buy a box of thank-you cards and some stamps. Liberal use of thank-you notes is a good investment that is tax-deductible.

Catching them cold

A participant at a workshop once said, “You suggest calling people you don’t know — perhaps a successful person in a professional association. That seems clumsy to me. How do you do that?”

Several days prior to your contact, send them a letter and your r←sum←. This way they will not be surprised by your call and may have thought about what to say to you.

Unexpected opportunities

Good networking opportunities occur when you least expect it.

One of those least likely times would be when you have been turned down for a job. Networking may be the last thing on your mind at that moment. However, I have seen job seekers put an interviewer to good use. You could ask, “If you don’t see a place for me in your business, can you suggest someone else in the industry who might be able to use someone with my skills?”

Be constantly on the alert for network opportunities.

Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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