A few days ago, a reader asked, “How do you start the conversation for business networking?”.
Networking can be quite intimidating. Have you ever went to a professional event with the purpose of trying to find the closest seat to the door? For some people, it is hard to simply, mingle. This one guy told me, “I hate going to those events. All the small talk is just too surfacy. I really like connection.”
I get it. When my career coach advised me to network, I just didn’t understand the concept. To me, the obvious way to get a job was to respond to a posting. I also found it odd to connect with someone solely for professional reasons. I felt like I was using a person for a job and that felt inauthentic.
Over the past year and a half, my perspective on networking has transformed tremendously. And my view changed because I decided to use networking as a way to learn, share and build connection.
Networking is all about connection. True connection creates a symbiotic relationship that results in authenticity. And of course, networking increases your chances for getting a job!
So how do you start that conversation?
There are so many ways to start a “networking conversation”. I mainly use three forms of networking: cold requests for informational interviews, references, and professional events. I will share my tips in a three part-series.
In this post, I will discuss cold requests.
Cold requests for Informational Interviews: The rule of thumb for conducting informational interviews is to have someone reference you whether it be through a friend or LinkedIn. However, there will be many instances in which you’ll have no connections to your dream company. As a new Bostonian, I really had to challenge myself to send emails to random people in order to get my foot in the door.
Before I sent a random email, I would research companies, organizations and people doing work that I was passionate about. For example, if you are interested in consulting, you would research the top consulting companies in your city.
Then I would use LinkedIn as well as company bios to find a person in my dream position or someone in human resources who I can speak with. Next, I would draft an email that stated my purpose. I would give a little background of myself, praise the organization, if possible discuss a common interest, and ask for advice!
Here is an example: