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Building Your Confidence with Networking

By Kathleen Schulweis

Confidence building is as much about action as it is about keeping yourself calm and reassured. This article offers tips that will put you into action and thus keep you calm and reassured. What I know to be true as a professional coach and entrepreneur is networking is really net-working. If we approach the task of getting out into the world as the logical step toward paid work, then it makes sense and becomes easier to do. Use these tips to help you find your way back into the world.

Are you afraid to get out and meet people?
This is a common reaction, especially when you’re first out of work or seeking work that will be more fulfilling and satisfying. This is a good time to hook up with those you trust and work together to start networking. The longer you wait to take action, the more difficult it becomes to do so.

Can you explain to others the work you are seeking?
Know who you are, what direction you’re heading and what you have to offer. You should be able to communicate this information quickly and concisely-30 seconds max. That is: BE SPECIFIC.

Are you a member of a professional association?
This is your built-in network. Many are ashamed or afraid to use this network but times are such that everyone’s talking about the situation and trying to help. Use your colleagues to help you too.

Are you keeping your resume fresh?
It is critical that you keep active and keep adding new actions to your resume. Finding work is hardest when you are unemployed. Like it or not employers are thinking ‘why did you lose your job?’ If you have new activities on your resume, you eliminate that barrier. Be sure you have these on you at all times. You never know who you are going to meet or when.

Are your networking strategies organized?
Go to any and all meetings, keep the information in your calendar, collect business cards, follow-up on all likely prospects. Don’t eliminate opportunities because YOU believe things won’t turn out. What we know for sure is no action means no results.

Have you abused your network?

  • Do NOT use a contact’s name without permission.
  • Don’t expect an immediate response from a request for assistance.
  • Don’t overwhelm your contact with your woes and take up too much of their time.

Did you close the loop with those who helped you?
If someone has referred you to a position, be sure to keep him/her abreast of the actions and results. If you don’t land the job, your friends may have other opportunities but not realize you’re still looking.

Are you arranging informational interviews?
Use your network to meet others and arrange informational interviews (II). IIs are designed to learn more about an industry in advance. The more you know about the industry that you want to enter, the more you become a ‘player’ instead of a ‘new-be’.

Prepare questions:

  • What qualities are needed to be successful in this field?
  • What are the most important skills required?
  • What are the opportunities in this field?

Are observing proper etiquette when you’re networking?
Always dress as if you’re going on a job interview. Arrive on time. Be courteous and professional. Smile, relax and exchange pleasantries before you dive into your questions. Keep information about yourself brief and to the point. Don’t share your sad stories or over-explain why you are seeking work. Follow up with a thank you note - via snail mail.

Are you sharing your contacts and ideas?
Networking is a two-way street. Send emails, articles, and contacts, and offer introductions to your friends and colleagues where appropriate. Sharing creates a sense of abundance and personal power - things we all need right now.

Are you working every day?
Treat job hunting as a full-time job. Get up, get dressed, and get to work. Clock in. Clock out. Keep notes, set goals, hold yourself accountable for your activities. If you can’t do this for yourself, then ask others to hold you accountable and do the same for them.