Networking with Purpose by Guest Blogger, John Yurkschatt, Director of IT Practice, DCA

In today’s challenging job market, it’s not just about who you know but how you get to know them.  If NOT done correctly, networking is a waste of your time. If your approach is to seek out people to tell them about ME, ME, ME, you’ll walk away from every networking event/opportunity disappointed.

The right way to network is to do it with “purpose”.  That means think beyond “What’s in it for me?”  Instead, think “How can I help you?”

True networking is all about connecting, communicating and building a relationship.  It’s about enjoying your conversation with others and actively listening in order to figure out what they need as well as how you can connect them with the right people without designs for personal gain.

For many of you, this revelation is eye opening.  It’s probably contrary to what you’ve been doing.  If so, the following 5 tips on how to network successfully are especially meant for you:

1) Start networking before you’re in a pinch. Desperation can be smelled from across the room. Don’t be that person with panic in your eyes and only out for yourself. Handing out resumes at an event will make people run away from you instead of towards you. Start networking when you don’t have an ulterior motive.  Get to know people and about what’s important to them and start building a relationship.

2) Never dismiss anyone as being unimportant. Everyone has value and you’ll discover that fact if you keep your mind open and don’t judge people based on titles. Remember everyone has connections therefore, everyone is important.

3) Ask for an attendee list. Prior to attending each event, ask the organizer for a list of attendees.You can do some research on the people you want to meet. Check out their LinkedIn profiles and Google their names to gather more information.

4) Fish in the right pond. Unfortunately many of you are attending every event you can. You want to meet anybody and everybody. Slow-down. You need to be more focused. For example, if you’re looking for a big fish, i.e. a key contact with a large company because you want to work for a large company, then you must attend the right event. You have to fish where the big fish are.

5) Figure out how you can be useful. Networking is not just one sided. It’s not asking for favors. It’s about building relationships. It’s about a two way street and that means asking others how you can be of service to them. Be sincere and generous. Give them your business card and let them know they can call you anytime.

Please share how you network with purpose by posting a comment in the box below.