Job Search: Are You Too Needy?
Sure, your ultimate goal when networking might be to find a job. But charging up to people like a teenager making a last-ditch effort to find a date for prom isn’t likely to go over well. Instead, try making your interactions flow more naturally.
“Rather than starting a conversation by something as ‘threatening’ to another person as ‘I need your help finding a job,’ take a more soft-pedal approach,” says Toni McLawhorn, director of career services at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. “Ask for an informational interview. Tell the person you are considering a career in the field and that you’d like to pick his or her brain about it.”
Likewise, watch out that your eagerness doesn’t translate into a soliloquy. Friendly inquiries from others as to what you do or how you got involved with the event you are at should be looked at as opportunities to engage in conversation, not offer a life history.
The same holds true when making introductions online. “Succinctness almost always makes a stronger impression than long-windedness, says Burt Nadler, director of the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center at the University of Rochester. “Networking notes, like Twitter messages, should use minimal words and characters to maximize the impact of your initial request.”
While developing connections and making a positive impression are better uses of precious networking time than detailing how much you need a job, do provide those you meet with contact information so that the relationship can move forward. Even if job prospects don’t look promising at the moment, situations can change quickly, and you want to be remembered. To this end, always exercise common courtesy, whether you deem someone to be a “good” connection or not. As McLawhorn notes, “Thanking people for their time and assistance can take you a long way.”