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What To Say And How To Behave In A Networking Meeting

By Gerald Walsh ©

In last week’s blog, I outlined some of the strategies you might follow to get in front of potential employers.

So, what should you say and how should you conduct yourself in one of these meetings?

Keep in mind that your primary goal is to obtain information and advice from that employer. As tempting as it might be, you should refrain from asking for a job or if there are any openings coming up.

That could be a big turnoff to someone who has agreed to spend time with you and help you. In fact, being too direct and asking for a job could put people on the spot and ultimately hurt your chances if a job does arise down the road.

However, if the employer raises the issue first and asks if you might be interested in a role there, by all means, engage in that discussion – as long as it’s their idea, not yours.

You should come to the meeting fully prepared with specific questions around the information you want to obtain. Here are a few examples:

Does my approach to job search make sense to you?

What do you see as the future trends in your industry?

What other companies or people might you suggest I contact?

Might you be willing to give them a call on my behalf?

Is it okay if I mention your name?

Can you take a look at my resume and offer me some feedback?

Do you know the names of any recruiters who specialize in my field? 

Do you have any thoughts on how my skills and background might be transferred to other industries or types of jobs?

Are you aware of any companies in the area with openings in my field?

Having a good list of focused questions will highlight your seriousness and professionalism and help you obtain valuable information for your job search.

In addition to obtaining information and sound advice, you should be thinking about how you build a long-term meaningful relationship with this person – one that is characterized by “give-and-take.”

This means that the relationship should be mutual and of value to both parties involved. Think of ways that you can share your knowledge, resources, time and energy to help the other person.

You must show that you actually care about the relationship. One way to do this is to find common ground with the person by asking good questions about them and their needs, and listening well,  

You should also be respectful of the employer’s time and don’t overstay your welcome.

Following the meeting, you must follow up with a thank you note. Regardless of how helpful the information was you have to show your appreciation for their time.

It is also wise to keep that person in the loop by e-mailing them after you’ve met with one of their referrals or after you’ve gotten a job. It will certainly make them feel good if some of the advice they shared has paid off.

 

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at walsh@geraldwalsh.com


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.