Sales people are natural networkers, whether you realize it or not – every day, every time you meet someone or talk with someone or interact in any way, you are communicating key messages about yourself and representing your skills.
When you’re looking for a new job, networking takes on an added degree of urgency – but it doesn’t have to be the case. You can network “naturally” using all your existing skills and talents and by calling on people you already know.
Here are 4 ideas to get started in networking to find your next job:
1. Make a long list of everyone you know: Every single person you know – family, friends, former colleagues, college and high school classmates, even casual acquaintances – can potentially be helpful to you in finding a new job. Everyone you know, and everyone they know, is part of your network. If you took the time to write down a list of names, you might be astonished at just how many people you know – and then think of how many people (unknown to you) are connected to each of the names on your list. You are not alone. You are surrounded by a supportive network of people who care about you and are willing to help.
2. Get on Facebook and Twitter: If you’re not already there! Social media like Facebook and Twitter are two of the most powerful ways to introduce yourself to people, get acquainted, and build a mutually beneficial relationship over time. But you have to use social media the right way – don’t just go in and start aggressively introducing yourself and asking for help from every person you meet; it sounds desperate and off-putting. Instead, be more casual, calm and collected – introduce yourself to people by individual Facebook messages instead of sending blast e-mails to everyone in your network. Create a conversation before making “the ask.” Just like working through the sales process in the “real world,” with online social media there are ways to build rapport prior to asking for help.
3. Go to networking events: Even if you’re out of work, you can still attend professional networking events. Don’t feel awkward or embarrassed – you’re a talented sales professional with good things to offer, and these events are a key meeting point for some of the people who are likely to want to hire people like you. Facebook and Twitter get all the media attention, but there’s nothing “old fashioned” about meeting people face-to-face and having real conversations. It’s still one of the most effective ways to get invited to interviews and get hired.
4. Reach out to organizations: If you belong to a church or faith community, start showing up for services. If your church or faith community has support groups or networking services for people who are looking for work, or volunteer opportunities for professionals who can lend their expertise, sign up and get involved. If you haven’t been very active recently with your university alumni association, it might be time to get back in touch – see if they have any upcoming events in your city where you can introduce yourself to some fellow alums. Any non-profit organizations where you’ve volunteered in the past or have served on the board might also be an ideal source of contacts.
Every single person you know, every single person you meet (and every single person that both of these groups know) has the potential to help connect you with your next job. Be ready to share your story and put your best foot forward – be prepared to work every room you’re in. Sales people are natural networkers; as always, you’re ultimately selling yourself.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. He is an award-winning blogger who loves to write about careers and the future of work.
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