Are you looking for your next job? Do you need to build your network but you're not sure how to do if effectively? Do you get nervous at networking events and forget what to say?
If you identify with any of these scenarios, then you certainly aren't alone. Networking can be an awkward and nerve-wracking activity that makes even the very best speakers and communicators a little antsy. But, in today's world -- networking is more important than ever.
Career headhunters often will tell you that a major reason for getting your next job will not be your level of education or even where you went to school. It will be your ability to identify people on the inside who can vouch for you and become your advocate.
Now you know you need to network. Read on for three common networking interview questions to ask at your next networking event and five tips for effective networking.
Three Questions For Your Next Networking Event
#1: What Do You Love About Your Job?
When you are at a networking event, you'll likely be moving throughout the room and starting conversations with the various people in attendance. It's important to find out what they do so you can figure out if establishing a connection could be mutually beneficial.
But instead of asking the typical "What do you do?" question, get the answers you are looking for by asking a more creative question: "What do you love about your job?"
The person you are talking to will probably appreciate this question more because it allows him or her to open up about the positive difference they are making in their field and what motivates them to keep going.
#2: Where Is Your Role Headed in the Future?
It's important to know where a particular field and position is going in the future. Does the position have upward mobility? Is there upward mobility at the company? The answers to those questions can be different -- and they'll give you insight into the opportunities that are available.
If you discover that typically the position and the industry does have upward mobility and professionals get promoted within two years -- but at the particular company of the person you are interviewing there haven't been promotions, then this could be a red flag to you.
#3: What's an Upcoming Project You're Excited About Working On?
Similar to Question #1, this question dives a little deeper and gets at the specifics of what motivates and excites the person you are interviewing. It also gives you insight into the day-to-day work life of the person.
If the person isn't excited about any projects and is frustrated, then that will show. If the person has a list of projects he or she can't wait to finish, then that tells you something as well.
You want to be at a company that gives you opportunity to work on exciting, fulfilling projects instead of weighing you down in the doldrums of day-to-day busy work.
Yes, we all have to do parts of our jobs that we don't like, but you want the opportunity to have at least one exciting project on your desk that keeps you motivated in your day-to-day work.
Five Tips for Effective Networking
When you find yourself in that networking room, put your best face (and voice) forward with these five tips.
#1: Do a Pre-Networking Pep Talk
Before the event, stand in front of your mirror and do a quick pep talk. Some people feel silly about this, but psychology proves it works.
Run through some possible scenarios that could occur at the event. Come up with ideas of how you'll answer potential questions or conversation starters you could use.
Tell yourself you'll do great, you are a worthy job candidate, and you are a good communicator. A little positivity and self-confidence goes a long way.
#2: Actively Listen
One of the big challenges of networking is that there are so many people to talk to in such a short amount of time. But try to focus on one person at a time. Don't be so anxious to move on that you forget to listen to what the person is saying.
Actively listen by making mental notes as the person is talking and then following up on those details with good questions or comments.
#3: Keep Eye Contact
Keeping eye contact establishes trust with the person you are networking with and gives them your undivided attention. Try not to dart your eyes.
You can get out of a bad conversation in a few minutes simply by thanking the person and moving on. But commit to at least a few minutes of direct eye contact and attention to the person at a time.
#4: Ask Questions
Ask good questions. Don't spend the whole time talking about yourself. You need to talk about yourself and try to relate, but you'll be more likely to make a connection by ask probing questions that allows the other person to talk about their work and achievements.
By doing this you show you are interested in what the other person does and what they have to say. Combine this with active listening to ask relevant questions and keep the conversation rolling.
#5: Express Gratitude and Follow Up
At the end of the conversation, thank the person for their time, tell them you enjoyed meeting them, and ask for a business card. Then, within the next week, follow up with the person for a chat or meeting.
Although it can seem overwhelming at first, networking can be an effective way to establish new professional connections. With practice and keeping these tips and questions in mind, you will be well on your way to acheiving networking success.