How to Work a Room

How To Work A Room (author: Sima Dahl)

Social networking gets all the ink lately but as we discussed last month, an
integrated job search strategy includes plenty of offline networking too. As a
recovered job seeker turned agency owner I do my fair share of in-person
networking each month. In addition to Chicago AMA, American Marketing Association, meetings I attend at least two additional events each month, sometimes more. Here are some examples:

• Industry – Executives’ Club of Chicago Centennial Technology Event
• Gender – Professional Women’s Club of Chicago Luncheon
• Skill – Social Media Club of Chicago Mixer
• Niche – Business Marketing Association
• Cause – Fundraiser

Even your church rummage sale is a networking opportunity if you think about it!
Here are some tips to get the most out of your next “in the flesh” networking
event, or #IRL (in real life) as we say on Twitter:

1. Arrive Early
Be among the first to arrive and get comfortable somewhere near the door. The
worst thing you can do is sit in the corner with your nose buried in your
smartphone. Networking isn’t that unlike fishing… you have to throw the hook out
a few times before you reel in a live one. Be early, shake some hands, practice
your pitch and see what leads you land. Goes without saying you should bring
plenty of business cards!

2. Leave the Resumes at Home
The other day I was at a networking event and ran into a distant acquaintance
who promptly announced he was on the job hunt and handed me a copy of his
four-page resume, paper-clipped no less. Leave the resumes at home and ask
instead for permission to send a copy as a follow-up if you think it’s appropriate.

3. Reconsider the Handbill
Unless I’m a hiring manager, a recruiter or I’m planning to forward it to someone
in one of those positions, I don’t want a copy of your resume.Brace yourself
because here comes a hard truth… if you give it to me, I’m probably not even
going to read it. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in helping you with your
search but to do that, I just need to know some very basic things including your:

– Target job… at a high level, what is it you’re seeking to do
– Experience recap… briefly, where you’ve worked and what you’ve
accomplished in your tenure
– Ideal industry, geography, company size or other employer parameters
– Wish list… companies where you’d love a connection
A one-page handbill is a perfect follow-up to a great networking conversation.
When someone says, “I may have a lead for you,” or, “You know who you should
talk to,” ask permission to send your handbill or “search summary” as part of your
online follow-up. When done well, a handbill makes it easier for me to help you in
your search – it’s a win/win! You can find examples online.

4. Follow-Up with Everyone
Whether you spoke at length or only briefly exchanged business cards on your
way out the door, promptly follow-up online and keep any promises you made to
share additional information. And remember, an email is nice but a LinkedIn
connection last longer!

5. Set Aside Time to Unwind
In-person networking is hard work and an uncomfortable exercise for many
people! While some folks get a kick out of networking I’ve met plenty who would
rather stick a hot poker in their eye than schmooze with strangers. Whichever
camp you fall in, be sure to set aside time to recharge your batteries. You need
to stay sharp throughout your search cycle so when you’re feeling beat up, it’s
okay to skip an event and know there will always be another one.

Sima Dahl’s Article


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