As I mentioned in Part 1, when you start networking, you will find that most people are generous with both their time and their advice. If they trust you, they will be prepared to introduce you to others who can help and to give you good advice.
But starting to network can be daunting. So we are going to make a pilot list of people who are both useful and approachable. These will be people you can practice on!
You should have a long list of contacts if you followed the suggestions in Part 1. Now is the time to go through it and score your candidates out five for
- Accessibility – you can contact them easily and they are located within meeting distance
- What they might be able to do for you! I’m afraid you will have to be a bit ruthless here – remember your future is at stake
- Their “user friendliness” – how approachable they are.
The scores on the doors
Now you can rank them.
Put those with a score of 2 or less in categories 1 and 2 above to one side in pile D – these are put on hold for now!
Of those who remain, put those with a score of 2 or less in category 3 in pile C. However useful they are, it will help to build up some confidence before you approach them. Unless of course you are an Ace Networker who loves a challenge!
Now add up the scores of those you have left and rank them.
Within your top ten, do you have five who score 5 in category 3?. If so put them in pile A.
If you can’t find five contacts who score 5 then add in the top scorers who scored four in category 3.
You are looking for five useful people who are also friendly to start your networking activity – Pile A – Your Pilot List.
The rest go into Pile B.
Make sure you have names, email addresses and telephone numbers for Pile A and Pile B.
I hope the ranking made sense – if not get in touch and I’ll give further guidance.
Now before you make your first phone call or send your first email you n
eed to decide what to say.
People just love being asked for advice. Personally I believe this is best done face to face over coffee, lunch or a drink rather than on the phone.
So I would start with an email or a phone call to ask for a little of their time.
When you have asked how they are, and reminded them if necessary about how you met, you need an explanation for your call or email! It is a good idea to keep things fairly brief and positive as you can at this stage!
You can mention being caught up in the cuts if it is appropriate but emphasise that you are focussing on the future rather than the past. You are seeking their advice and perhaps to find out more about their sector or their organisation and the possibilities.
You could ask if it is OK to send your CV before the meeting saying that you would welcome thier comments upon it.
When you meet, emphasize your flexibility and openness to opportunity
Use your card index or Microsoft Outlook Contacts to keep a record of your success – who you have rung and what happened.
You can use the category markers and follow up flags in Microsoft Outlook Contacts to keep track.
Treat this like a project with a beginning middle and end.
Work through your pilot list. Keep a record of their comments and remember to send a note of thanks after your meeting.
Say that you would like to keep in touch and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything interesting.
When you have worked your way through your A List, you should be ready to start on List B.
The next post will deal with networking events and “cold calling” people you do not know.
But in the mean time I would love to hear how you get on. And of course please get in touch if you have questions.
Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at email@example.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439