Great article on WSJ’s career pages (careerjournal.com) about Networking Mistakes, lots of solid reminders about what to do and not to do. I especially enjoyed the second tidbit about not being vague in one’s networking efforts.
I had breakfast with a young professional who is conducting a career search and during the meeting she had lots of questions. Questions about leadership programs, questions about financial service firms, questions about management consulting, questions about law school – she was all over the place. It reminded me of when my five-year old replies to the question about what he wants to do when he grows up, “I want to dig for dinosaur bones, be a firefighter, play baseball for the Yankees, write books, and be a teacher.”
While it is cute when a five-year-old is all over the place with his career aspirations, it is not cute when he turns 25. No one is saying you need to have all the answers at 25, Lord know I did not and still do not, but during a networking meeting one needs to have focus to make the meeting productive. Set an agenda for the meeting to help give the meeting structure and align expectations for each party. Just as Scot Melland (see WSJ article) said, when networkers are unfocused in their meetings, he has no way of helping the individual.
Enjoy the article and remember when reaching out for a networking meeting, have a specific agenda in mind. It is okay to ask for a follow-up meeting in the future to discuss another topic, but your focus will allow your contact to understand how he/she can assist you in your career efforts.