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Impress The Important Ones At Networking Events By Following This 5-Step Plan

Impress The Important Ones At Networking Events By Following This 5-Step Plan

Regardless of your age or profession, you cannot escape the importance that networking plays in defining modern-day career success. While older professionals may claim that they have developed their career to date without adopting aggressive networking practices, changes to the way in which employers evaluate and recruit candidates for work mean that these are now increasingly important.

This applies to both virtual and physical networking practices, which are known to deliver a return in terms of human and monetary capital. By targeting relevant networks online and attending physical meetings and events, it is possible to cultivate a strong presence among your peers and earn new business contracts.

A 5-Step Plan for impressing your Peers at Networking Events

With this in mind, here is a five-step plan for successfully targeting relevant networking events and impressing your fellow attendees:

1. Thoroughly Research Relevant Events and Establish Specific Goals

If you are determined to make an impression, it is imperative that you prepare fully and establish event-specific goals prior to attending. This is because not all events are created equal, and while some may not be relevant to your service others may be aimed at a niche demographic of attendees.

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Fortunately, you can use LinkedIn to search for relevant events, either through your own contacts or groups or by perusing a comprehensive list of open communities on the site. From here, you can review the description of the event and research individual members, while also reviewing the topics that tend to be discussed both online and at physical network meetings. If you want to conduct a more comprehensive search, you can also follow any event-specific hashtags on Twitter and connect with some of the listed attendees.

With a clear understanding of an event, its purpose and regular attendees, you can begin to establish event specific goals and identify the people that will help you to achieve them. Prioritise the people that you want to connect with based on their role and level of influence, before preparing topics for discussion that can provide an entry point into a longer-term relationship.

2. Establish your Presence as a Thought Leader

Attempting to network successfully should be a long-term goal, and it may require significant time and effort to achieve this. After you have begun to target networks and specific events, for example, the next step is to connect with members and establish your presence as a knowledgeable and proactive thought leader.

Thought leadership can essentially be described as the entry point into a relationship, and there are a number of ways that you can use this to engage event members and connections. Apart from adopting a proactive role in communicating with fellow members and introducing new members that can add value to the group, you should take the opportunity to publish and share information that is relevant to your industry. Look to share insightful, real-time news items with contacts through Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, using the content to spark debates and social conversations.

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You should also look to use blogging as a viable thought leadership tool, publishing industry-relevant content that can intrigue and challenge members of the group. If you do follow this particular course, focus on developing detailed and informative posts that are consistent, topical and ultimately relevant to the theme of the networking event.

3. Attend the Event well-resourced and Immaculately Presented

After a period of time, you will have established yourself as a revered and well-liked member of your specific networking group. This makes the process of engaging fellow members in person at a networking event far easier, although your hard work can be undone if you are ultimately unprepared or make a poor physical impression.

To begin with, make sure that you are smartly and appropriately dressed for the occasion. Remember that this is a professional event, and you should wear similar attire as you would when attending a job interview or client meeting. Business-casual attire should be fine, although if you are in doubt research previous events for photographic evidence of how other members dressed. By presenting an immaculate appearance, you will underline the fact that you are taking the event seriously and reinforce your value as a network member.

In terms of preparation, you will also need to make sure that you have a set of professional business cards with you when you attend the event. If you leave these at home or simply forget to share them with fellow members, you may undermine the impression that you make at the event. Similarly, be sure to retain the business cards of key influencers who you have yet to connect with online, and strive to initiate further content within 24 hours of the event.

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4. Develop an Emotive, Human Connection

We have already spoken about the importance of creating an entry point into a relationship prior to attending an event, and it is crucial to build on this by developing a human connection when meeting people in person. This can help to create business relationships that transcend an online network, establishing bonds that are genuine and based on multiple emotive factors such as trust, integrity and shared pursuits.

This type of emotive, human connection depends on effective communication skills, and more specifically the ability to ask insightful questions and listen intently to the answers. While the primary goal of any networking event may be to build a more successful career, it is crucial that you strive to develop mutually beneficial relationships that can stand the test of time. Strive to understand the underlying qualities of fellow members and their unique motivation to succeed, absorbing their responses to learn more and get a clearer understanding of them as individuals.

According to Tony Robbins, the quality and insightfulness of your questioning correlates to the quality of your life, which in turn reinforces your value as an individual. Above all else, the process of engaging individuals in a two-way conversation and learning from their responses lays the foundation for a distinctly human relationship.

5. Follow up after the Event and maintain a Tenacious approach to Communication

While you may adopt a focused approach to identifying and attending viable events, others are far more prolific on the networking scene. So even if you are successful in engaging potential contacts and making a positive impression, this will mean little if you fail to follow-up with regular and proactive communication.

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If you are not to become just another face in the crowd, it is crucial that you are tenacious in your approach and connect further with the attendees who you met at the event. Aside from continuing your role as an active member of the group’s online interaction through LinkedIn and Twitter, you should also follow-up by sending emails to those who you connected with thanking them for their time and insight. Once they respond, you can continue to communicate and create a two-way dialogue in-between networking events.

On a note of caution, be sure to maintain some boundaries when communicating with fellow members. Use professional means of communication only, while also targeting individuals with whom you developed a significant rapport. This ensures that every interaction is natural and capable of being sustained over time.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay – Life of Pixs via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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