This afternoon I led a presentation on networking (what is it, how-to process, and etiquette) to a group of about 85 law students. The presentation tried to involve as much audience participation, and I am glad it did as there were several insights these law students provided that served as good reminders about networking:
1) Networking should strive to be a mutually beneficial relationship. The strongest connections are those in which all sides are willing to ask for and give assistance.
2) When contacting someone to whom you have been referred, be sure to mention the common connection as soon as possible. “Bob Smith suggested I contact you …”; “Upon the advice of Mary Jones, I write to you to …”
3) If you are not sure if you should use the connecting person’s name (Bob and May in the previous line), ask for permission. “Mary: You suggested I reach out to John Doe to discuss my interest in PR, would you mind if I mention your name and our conversation in my outreach to John?”
4) Research the person, firm, industry, etc. prior to contacting an individual as it will help prepare you for the conversation and show you are serious about the relationship.
5) You can never say thank you enough times.
6) Networking is all about relationship building – it takes time and work, nurturing each relationship through repeated outreach and interactions.
Now, put these lessons into practice!