Are You Guilty of These 4 Networking Mistakes?

Video about the 4 mistakes


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What does networking mean to you?

where is my bioscience job?

Speaking the same (science) language

For many people, networking means going to a presentation or meeting and collecting and handing out business cards. And while this is one technique, it is not all of networking or even a large part. 

Networking is establishing and maintaining personal relationships with people for your mutual benefit.  The benefits must go both ways and be satisfying to both people in any networking meeting.  It includes choice and follow-up.  Random meeting and exchange of business cards may, but usually does not, lead to benefits for both parties.

Choice means choosing where and when to meet people and establish a relationship of some sort.  If three months or three days later you or your networking partner does not remember the other, it was not networking.  It may have been a good party, but not networking.  Only participate in “networking events” if the other people there are likely to be in your industry.

Choose where and when you network.  Don’t expect too much from yourself – don’t try to collect all of the business cards in the room!  Decide to network with no more than 5-10 people at any one event.  Ask questions about them!  Find out what they do and if there is anything you can do for them.  Do not give your “elevator speech” unless they ask you what you do, but keep it short and turn the conversation back to them as soon as possible.  Don’t be desperate! 

Networking can also, and perhaps even better, be done one on one.  Take someone to coffee and learn about them, their job, their company, what they do in their spare time, without asking for anything for you.  Figure out what you can do to make their life better.  Perhaps you should introduce them to someone, send them a link, follow-up after you do some research, but always give them the gift of your attention.  We all like attention and will feel better when we get it.

If these people seem to be interesting to you, add them to your career network and keep up with them – follow them on LI, on FB, wherever the web makes it easier, but also do it in real life.  Send holiday cards, invite them to your big 4th of July party, etc. 

Friends are the inner circle of your personal network, some of your business network/career network people will become personal friends.  And we all need friends!

The MOST important part of networking for a job

back of business cardAfter you have come home from a networking event or networking coffee date or the interview, the most important part of networking begins.

What do you do with those business cards when you get home from networking for a job?

Tip 1:  Get the information on that business card into your contact manager, including the notes you wrote on it.  We all forget things and when you meet more than one person, your memory can “all run together” so that you are not sure exactly which bit of information belongs to which name.

Tip 2: If you promised to send some information to your networking partner, do so.  If you promised to connect them to another one of your contacts, do it. 

Tip 3: Start your connection with an email or even a handwritten snail-mail note.  Tell them what a pleasure it was to meet them and how much you look forward to seeing them again.  If this is after an interview, pick three things that you got out of the interview and mention them and how you can help him/her take care of that. 

You would be surprised at how many people I have met, who gave me their card and accepted mine, who never did any of this.  The most successful people do.  It is very nice to have such a great community.

How many times have you gotten even an email after an event?  It is currently unusual and makes you stand out from the herd.

Check out the live free webinars in the sidebar or the recorded ones here

Closing the Networking Conversation

English: Business card case enclosure

English: Business card case enclosure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After you have met someone at a networking event and have concluded your conversation, what do you do next?  Ellen Yurek has some great ideas that she shared with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s last networking event in August 2012:

Closing the Networking Conversation

Thank the contact person for their time and attention.

Exchange business cards. Take time to look at their card, as this is important in some cultures.

  • Once you are away from the contact person, jot down some notes to remind you of the details of the conversation.

Ask for help, but be specific.

  • Do you want a connection within their company or specialty? Do you want to meet with them later to discuss an aspect of the field?
  • Ask the contact person if she would be willing to talk to you later. Inquire if she would be available for a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting.
  • It may be appropriate to ask if they would prefer to meet you during or after the work day, depending on geography (another reason to look at their business card).

Offer to provide the contact person with information or connections that you have.

  • If you know of a recent article or upcoming seminar pertaining to your conversation or the contact person’s interests, offer to send it to them. (Write this on the business card, so you remember to do so within 24 hours).
  • Is there someone you know who would be an asset to the contact? Offer to provide referrals who may be of assistance to the contact. Perhaps that person is at the same event, and you can make a face-to-face introduction.

Indicate the end of the conversation to allow the contact person,  and yourself, to speak with other people.

  • You are all at the event to meet others and refresh previous contacts.
  • Aim to have meaningful exchanges when a connection seems to “click”, but don’t monopolize one person’s time.
  • Be respectful of the contact person’s time at the event, especially if others are waiting to talk with them. This is particularly important if the contact person is a presenter, panelist or host.
  • If you feel the conversation is waning or it is time to move on, exit the conversation with a polite “I know you’d like to speak with other participants, so I’ll let you go now.”

Thank the contact again.

Follow up within a day with a personal message.

  • Just sending the default LinkedIn request is not enough. Individualize your message: include an aspect of your conversation to remind them of you in your e-mail.
  • Provide your contact information again; business cards get lost. Make it easy for the contact to respond to you.
  • If you don’t get a response in a few days, re-send the message, and follow-up with a phone message. E-mails get lost in the huge volume we all receive.
  • Be willing to talk with, or meet, the contact person on their terms. They are doing you a favor by providing their valuable time. Make it easy for them.

Maintain the contact

  • As you come across articles, seminar announcements or job postings relevant to the contact’s interests, pass them on to your contact person. This is an excellent way to refresh the connection.
  • If you have a meeting or phone conversation with the contact, don’t forget to send a thank you message (e-mail or handwritten) for the person’s time and assistance.

Pay it forward: help others who are looking to you for advice or connections.

Ellen Yurek has over 20 years’ experience in global development and commercialization of biologics and small molecules, primarily in Project Management and Regulatory Affairs. Her experience includes management and leadership of cross-functional teams advancing therapeutics at all stages from pre-clinical to registration through life-cycle management at Big Pharma/Biotech and start-up companies, including Zeneca, Sanofi, Amgen, Elan, and Xencor. Currently, Ellen is a consultant to life science companies.

Ellen Yurek

7 Essential Actions at Every Networking Event

Do you go to networking events and wonder what to do?

Make a plan!

1.  Get the attendee list early, if you can, and look up the people you are most interested in.

If you can get the list of attendees before the meeting, you can look them and their companies up online and have even more to ask about.  And you can approach the people you have already decided you want in your network.

2.  Get there early and look over the room, the venue and the crowd. 

Get there early enough to find the bathroom (you never know when someone else will need that bit of information) and look over the room.  You may find that you are a bit overdressed and could remove your jacket or otherwise change your appearance.

3. Speak to every person standing by themselves.

They are probably a bit nervous and will be glad to have someone approach them or, if it is early, they will not yet be in a large group.

4. Build their network too

Remember that you are building both your own network and theirs, so see if you know anyone who might be of interest to them.

5. Give and gather at least 3 cards. 

Aim for at least 3 cards from every event, but raise that as you get more comfortable.  There is a limit – you don’t want to simply rush from person to person, grabbing cards.  You will need to respond to each one of them within a few days so don’t get more than you can reply to. (more on this in another post)  Take enough cards for when people approach you!

6.  Ask them what they do and what is happening at their company.

People love to talk about themselves and what they do.  Let them start first – some people will never ask what you do, putting you ahead of the game by getting information from them. You may not even need that “elevator speech” you sweated over.  It could go, “I see that you are from X company – what do you do there?”  What you are giving at this point is attention and interest – and we all need both of those!  Don’t approach someone and beg or deliver your sales pitch – they don’t know yet if they care about you at all.  Remember that equal exchange – no one hires because you need a job.

7.  Approach and speak with the speaker

Comment on something that they said, ask a question for further clarification and get their card.  Make notes on the back of the card and send an email the next day.

What do you usually do?

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