How to Be a Better Networker

business networkingNetworking is important when you are looking for a job. Research suggests that 80 percent of people get their jobs through their network, according to a report on ABC News. But how can you become a better networker? AOL Jobs spoke with Laura Labovich, founder and chief career strategist of Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group for some recommendations.

Q. Why do people hate networking?

A. People hate networking because, so often, it comes across as disingenuous. As my friend, Lynne Waymon, from the organization Contacts Count, would say: "Talking and taking, instead of teaching and giving." Networking, done incorrectly, can appear selfish and salesy.

Q. What are the biggest mistakes people make when they network?

A. They aim to make each conversation a sale. They want to convert the person with whom they are networking into a believer and ambassador of their products or services, but this sort of transformation does not happen overnight. Their behavior says, "Hey, would you like to hire me? I'm pretty great, you know"; or, "Have you seen any clients around, because I could really use another client!" But they are missing the authenticity, the true relationship. Not everyone needs to be a client to be a good contact.

Q. What are some tips for being a better networker?

A. It takes a meaningful, honest, authentic exchange of dialogue between two people to turn a stranger into an advocate. Specifically speaking about job search, it is so common for job seekers to want to immediately get the interview, rather than make the conversation interesting so that the relationship can be nurtured and can continue to grow.

Q. Any suggestions for networking effectively in non-corporate sectors (e.g., blue collar workers, recent grads, moms returning to work)?

A. The same principles do apply; for example, a mom returning to the work force ought to consider reaching out to her network before she needs it. A good practice, or habit, to get into is to log onto Linkedin and check the newsfeed, then comment on what she reads. This will build and nurture relationships, and her network will not feel as if she just "wants something." I advise my clients to send personal e-mails when you see that your colleagues have made job changes on Linkedin, simply to congratulate them, ask about what the job will entail, and inquire if they are excited. When you initiate a conversation with a former colleague or other, it's best to have it NOT be about yourself.

Next: How to Succeed at a Job Fair

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I wish my ex - wife would " network " just to herself and keep it truthful. I don't know why she has to be so psych if she has someone in her life that supposedly makes her happy.

November 07 2010 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to ge awards constantly for saving my company money and usually it was because I was able to always get employees from other companys that also serviced our customers to work with us, sometimes even to change their schedules to accomodate us. When I quit my job, I was swamped with offers from these other companys and had a new position, with higher pay, in less than a month. I never consciously "networked", I was just nice to people. I asked about their familys, their health if I had heard they were sick, etc. I was always respectful of their company and never bad-mouthed them or their employer to our mutual customers. Everybody makes such a big deal about networking "tactics" when in reality, you just have to be a decent human being who who works well with others. It's such a rare quality in people in general anymore that you will stand out in any crowd.

November 07 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cmamajane's comment

If more people "networked" the way you did, the world would be a much better place.

November 07 2010 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rio Joanz

This article seems to be an advertising or marketing tool for LinkedIn since it makes so many references to the site, so if you're not on linkedin, don't bother following this advice. People need to live in the real world. AOL posts the most ridiculous articles ever.

November 07 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rio Joanz's comment
MIchael Mc Manus

agree. more silly stuff.

November 07 2010 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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