Career Coach: How Not to Network
To network well you must be willing to give more than you receive and give much before you ask for anything in return. Networking is not just showing up for events where you are likely to meet others in your field, or visiting all the sites. You must network in a way that make people want to help you.
Never Eat Lunch Alone
Socialize with the crew and the directors of the shows you work on if you are invited to do so. If you are not invited to go along with the crowd, make a point at inviting others to join you in your activities. Never turn down an invitation capriciously. Be involved in the groups you work with and build your relationships there.
Networking is about being pleasant enough to make someone want to work with you again. There is no question that networking does wonders. If you are in the front of someone's mind when he hears of an opening, things click. If you hide in a cubicle waiting for word of your merit to travel, it won't.
The more people you know and who know you, the more opportunities will come your way.
Networkers Share Information Freely
Before you make any withdrawals of resources from your network, you must make some deposits. Contribute valuable information that is relevant to the people you want to network with. To do this, you need to find out what their interests are. And to do that, you have to actively listen when you meet someone and uncover that information. Learn what is important to the other person.
Dog owners might need to find a new vet or a good place to buy pet toys. Referring a babysitter might endear you to parents. Offer information to people in your network that is not necessarily related to careers or work. Tell them about events in their area that might be of interest to them or about a worthwhile book you've read or terrific restaurant you love. Become a conduit of information and a valuable resource to your friends.
Feed your network regularly with items of interest to the people you know. Give freely and don't expect anything in return. Be ready to discuss mutual interests with people you work with or meet. Make a habit of telling people how wonderful your friends are and they will probably promote you in return.
Small Talk Can Lead to Big Things
It's okay to be proactive, but don't be overbearing. If you help others as much as you can and consider the needs of others first it is unlikely you will ever be perceived as a networking leech. Become genuinely interested in other people. Remember building relationships takes time and care. When the time comes and you need help, you will have a network of people eager to lend a hand.
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson used to be shy, but now loves meeting new people and tries to stay connected with friends, but finds it is often challenging. Social networking sites like Linkedin are helpful. Pamela finds joy in bringing people together. She is a career coach and recruiter and available for speaking engagements. She will be speaking at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (www.gokafi.com) in May on "The Art of Networking" and also "Resumes and Demo Reels -- If Yours Don't Work, Neither Do You." She hopes to meet some new people there. She is a founding member and Board Member of Women in Animation (www.womeninanimation.org) and a member of Idaho Media Professionals (www.idahomediapro.org). You can contact her at PamRecruit@q.com.