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  • Networking Advice: Ask Aquent Webinar Recap

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    Editor’s note: This webinar recap article was developed by Aquent, AIGA’s official sponsor for professional development, as part of the “Ask Aquent” webinar series. Aquent recruiters are hosting live online 45-minute Q&A sessions each month to help respond to AIGA members’ most pressing career-related questions. 

    Some people love it and others dread it, but networking is still the best way to find a job you really want—especially in today’s ever-changing market. During her recent webinar, Aquent agent Mollie Nothnagel gave sound advice on how to develop business relationships through and benefit from networking. Here are some highlights, with a few extra tips thrown in.

    Who
    Think about who you want to connect with in this scenario: the person at a networking event whose profession has no correlation to your career path or someone who works in a related field? Define your audience. Know them. Decide who you want to meet, who can you help out and with whom you could benefit from a relationship.

    What
    What do you want people in your professional network to know about you? Just as you must identify what you can get out of a business relationship, you should also figure out what you can give. Grab some paper and write two to three sentences about what you do and the benefit of working with you. This is your “elevator pitch.” Don’t forget to practice it with a peer or mentor. Get comfortable with your pitch, because if you can’t, it isn’t the right one for you.

    Why
    If you’re struggling with your personal pitch, then ask yourself why someone would want to connect with you professionally. What’s your value in the business realm? Look critically at your online business profiles and compare them to the profiles of others in your field. Would you want to work with you? While it’s important to be yourself and to be authentic about your skills and experience, remember that your online presence often makes the first impression.

    Nurture Your Relationships
    This goes back to the “what,” mentioned above. When you meet someone, follow up within 24 to 48 hours, and be sure to reference something you discussed. During her webinar, Mollie recommended using Evernote to keep networking contacts organized by group, date, etc. She also suggested writing notes about each networking contact on the back of their business card. Introducing colleagues through LinkedIn is another way to show interest in developing relationships. For example, if one of your connections is looking for someone with specific skills or experience and you know of someone in your network who fits the bill, then introduce them. When you give to your network, your network gives back.

    You Can Do This
    Say you’re a self-proclaimed introvert and consider yourself the worst networker in the world. You can change that by learning about the people you want to meet before you approach them. Make a list of three to five questions that are substantial enough to spur strong conversations. Once again, practice makes perfect. This will help you network naturally, when the time comes.

    Additional Resources
    Looking for further advice? Here are two recommended books on professional networking: A Foot in the Door and Never Eat Alone

    About this Webinar Series
    If you missed the “Networking Advice” webinar, members may log in to view the entire broadcast on-demand here. For more information about the “Ask Aquent” webinar series, click here. Members may sign up for future sessions.

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