How to Network Effectively Even If You Hate Talking to People
Published: Sep 28, 2017
Maybe you don't see how networking can pay off.
Sure, you'll talk to a few interesting people here and there, but you're not sure how you get from having a chat with someone at a networking event to a job offer down the line.
Is one chat with someone enough to make them see you as the next perfect hire next time their company is hiring? Can it lead to anything more than niceties and a new LinkedIn connection?
Well, the truth is that it can (and does) lead to more--a lot more every day.
The trick is knowing how to follow up effectively to keep the lines of communication open. Following up an initial conversation and carrying on a long-term relationship that leads to these things is something that anyone can do. It simply takes extra effort that most people are not willing to do (or just don't know how).
In this post, I'll explain a way you can do this, and I'll share some scripts to help you get started.
Let's say you hit it off with Hilary at an HR conference. Sitting at the same breakfast table, you two wind up having a pleasant conversation and exchange business cards. You don't see her again for the rest of the conference, but you'd like to follow up with her.
Perhaps Hilary is someone who can forward your resume onto her HR manager in the future, and you might be able to land a great job at her company, but how do you make that happen?
This process is like planting seeds. You plant as many seeds as you can, and you never know when one of them will be ready to produce fruit.
The follow-up script below gives you a reason to stay in touch with people you've talked to once. When you use this, you won't come off as sleazy, sales-y or desperate because you're sincerely thinking about them and caring about what they would want first. Use this script to establish a relationship, which is what leads to job offers down the line. These scripts are examples from real networking emails I've sent. Notice how it just feels like I'm talking to another one of my friends!
A simple "thank you" message isn't enough. Everyone sends that! How do you go beyond that to make helping you a no-brainer?
1. Thank you (Same Day)
I absolutely enjoyed meeting you today at the (HR Conference) and sharing stories about company events. I will check out that catering company you mentioned and possibly use them next time! I'll let you know how it goes, and of course, please let me know if there's anything I can do to pay you back!
Comments: Notice a reference to a specific thing we talked about and the particular action I'm going to take, showing that I was fully engaged and paying attention to what she had to say. This email ends with a friendly offer to help and asks nothing of Hilary.
2. Add Value (1-2 weeks later)
I saw this article in the local tech newspaper, and it reminded me of what you said about small startups not putting enough focus on their HR practices! No reply needed--I just wanted you to see this because it's EXACTLY what you had talked about! I think you might be a bit of a psychic or something.
Comments: This email is where things start to become surprising. The person receiving your email likely didn't expect to hear back from you. Almost nobody follows up beyond one email. Here, I'm sending Hilary a valuable and fascinating resource, perhaps one she can use to show her manager or co-workers to say, "Hey, look! I was right." It can be any material — an article, blog post, photo, whatever — of something you know that she will find interesting. Plus, it doesn't hurt to compliment!
How do you know what she'll find interesting? Because, during your meeting, you were paying attention.
Finally, notice the phrase used in the last sentence: "No reply needed." This is music to a busy person's ears. For example, I get 100+ emails/day, and do you know what most of them want? They want something from me. When you can say "No reply needed," and send me something I find fascinating, I now love you. It's that simple.
3. 2-3 Weeks later
I wanted to give you an update: I hired that catering company, and I dealt with Mary, the owner. You were totally right — they were amazing (and reasonably priced)! They are positively a fit for us, and we're going to contract them for our next user conference, where we're expecting at least 200 people. If there's anyone else you can recommend, please let me know.
Thanks again! I'll let you know how it goes.
Comments: Here, I show Hilary that I took action on what she suggested, which is an instant 'stand-out' moment from 99% of other people. Notice I named specific names, let her know she was right, etc. In the last three sentences, there are also two other things happening. What are they?
The simplicity of this follow-up sequence technique contradicts its effectiveness. It seems so obvious — until you use it. Then its true magic shines through.
If you're interested in a deep-dive look on using networking to get job offers, download my complete and comprehensive guide, 'The Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Coffee Chats That Lead To Job Offers'.
Natalie Fisher is an enthusiastic HR Generalist who loves her job! She's been on over 50 interviews and received 48 job offers. Download her Free Guide: How to Nail an Interview You're Unqualified For.