Many job seekers give up on networking in their job search because they don’t seem to get results. They figure… “Networking doesn’t work for me, my situation must be different.”
What often is the actual case though, is that they never prompt the people they are networking with for appropriate information. They don’t ask the right questions, or any questions at all! Somehow expecting their networking contact to know and give everything they want on their own.
If you don’t ask questions, you won’t get answers, and without the answers you’re looking for, you won’t get results from your networking.
So what does it look like and what should you ask? Here are some observations…
An Elevator Speech alone is not enough.
Job seekers often work diligently developing on an Elevator Speech for their job search networking, however, don’t follow it up with questions that will help them further their efforts. When you tell someone that you’re looking for a new job, they assume you primarily want to know of appropriate job openings. Since people generally aren’t walking job boards, they won’t have anything for you, the conversation goes silent, and becomes awkward, and “networking doesn’t seem to work.”
Asking for additional contacts and referrals is critical.
Helping the networking contact understand that you are looking for additional contacts to connect to, that will eventually lead you to someone with the right opportunity, helps them think of other ways to help. The vast majority of people want to help, they just don’t know how. Helping them understand that other contacts are valuable to them makes their part easier.
Ask in multiple ways.
Don’t just ask one question at the end of your Elevator Speech… ask in multiple ways. Give them more than one way to be thinking about who they know. You might ask questions like:
- Who else do you know that would be worthwhile for me to talk to?
- Who do you know in my industry or field?
- If you were in my situation, who would be the first couple of people you would reach out to?
- Do you know anyone at XYZ Corporation, or ABC Company?
- Great contacts for me are people who are well connected themselves, who do you know like that?
- Are there others in your circle of relationships that you think could provide additional insight for me?
- Who do you know that might get me one step closer to someone that might be a great resource for me?
These, and other questions can help jog someone’s thinking or memory to help you get one step closer to your goal. Think of what kind of questions might help you come up with referrals if someone were asking you, and use them when speaking to others. Ask more than one question in the discussion.
Ask every time!
Get in the habit of asking at least one question at the end of EVERY conversation you have with someone about what you do or about your job search. Add the questions on the end of your statements when you’re practicing, to people you’ve spoken with before (they may remember someone this time that they didn’t think of last time), and in every opportunity you get to discuss your search. The more you get in the habit of asking, the more results you will get.
Without asking questions, your job search networking will be anemic. When you ask questions every time you talk to someone, networking will become your greatest source of job search results!