By Diana Cordova, CWCC Business Development and Marketing Director
The first woman was professionally dressed wearing a skirt and jacket. She came to the office and asked for our Member Services Director by name. She told me what she currently did and what she was specifically looking for, handed me her resume, and mentioned that she was moving back to Denver and wanted to learn about opportunities we might be aware of. She was prepared and professional, and I found myself immediately reviewing the Rolodex in my mind of contacts that might be useful to her. I shared the resources I was familiar with and took her resume to pass along.
The second woman, although presentable, was very casually dressed wearing khakis and an oxford shirt. She explained she was moving here and said she was looking for a job and then looked at me as if now it was my responsibility to magically materialize the perfect opportunity for her. When I asked her what she was interested in she said, “Anything.” I then asked her about her experience and she mentioned sales and customer service. I still wasn’t exactly sure what she was looking for, so I continued to question her and then tried to offer information that might assist her.
The Chamber is a valuable member and community resource with great networking events, so I explained that we do have events she can attend even as a non-member to make connections. I advised her to refine her focus and provide any contacts she meets with specific information as to what she is looking for and what she brings to the table so they can better assist her. She didn’t have a card, so I wrote down her information should something come to mind later. As she exited, I was left with the feeling that she would struggle in her networking efforts if she made all her contacts work as hard as I did to help her.
Below are several tips to improve the networking/prospecting interaction if you find yourself looking for that next great opportunity:
- Get to know your audience/contact. Find out about your contact and what kinds of resources they offer. Who else might they be able to refer you to? Don’t show up and assume they can produce exactly what you needed without ever asking any questions.
- Know what you want. Tell your contact what you are looking for. “Anything” leaves them without enough information to help. Know what you want and be able to articulate in one or two clear, concise sentences e.g.: “I’m a sales professional looking for a position in a mid-sized company specializing in technology.”
- Have an elevator pitch ready. Contacts won’t know what to do with someone who only tells them they are a sales manager. If you tell your new contact that you specialize in medical device sales through relationship management and you were the top producer in your territory three years in a row, then they will have a better idea of what company or which individuals to refer you to.
- Give your contact a reason to want to help. Find a way to convey what you have to offer and what’s special about you. If your new contact gets the impression that you are confident, good at what you do and are a go getter, they will be more willing to refer you to their contacts.
- Bring business cards to leave with contacts. Have a card handy so your contact is not left scrambling to find a pen and paper to write down your information. Make it easy on them.
These tips are true if you are networking to look for a job or prospecting for clients. Today’s market is competitive, so make sure you are prepared whenever and wherever you choose to network.