Yesterday, I had the privilege of teaching an undergraduate class at Notre Dame where we focused on the power of networking. We discussed some good guidelines (ex: research the person/company prior to outreach, don’t just ask for a job…build a relationship, etc.), resources like LinkedIn, and some personal success stories. During this class, I asked, “What percentage of your networking outreaches will result in phone calls/meetings with your contacts?”
Answers: 90%, 95%, and one person was less optimistic – 70%. I thought to myself, to be young and idealistic instead of old, jaded, and sarcastic like me.
I burst their bubble and told them to expect a return rate of 25-35% – talk about shocked looks on faces. One student offered up his experience and said that his networking success rates go in spurts, but the first 10-15 outreaches were the toughest. The class discussed this and we reached:
- Individuals need to find their own voice with networking. What works for one networker may not work for others.
- Language used when making a networking request to a young professional may not work to a senior executive. It takes time to ‘tailor’ ones approach.
- As one networks with professionals within a given industry, he/she will pick up some of the industry specific vocabulary. By implementing these words and phrases into one’s outreach, professionals will take the request more seriously.
- Success rates increase exponentially when you are referred to another contact – “Mr. Smith, Bob Jones suggested I contact you…”
- Success rates increase with confidence in one’s outreach.
In your efforts, what type of success rates have you experienced? Have the rates improved over time? What tips would you provide the class on how to improve one’s success rates?