Business Networking photo from ShutterstockNetworking is the #1 way people get new jobs and advance their careers. And yet, few people have been professionally trained in networking strategies and skills. I want you to become a more effective networker so you can improve you career and income!

If you read my last post, Five Ways Your Networking Is Hurting Your Career, then you gained some initial ideas for improving your networking results. In this post, I want to dig deeper into this subject and provide you specific suggestions that I have seen many clients utilize to their advantage. Their results improved and I believe the following ideas can also benefit you in the five areas outlined…

The first topic I mentioned in my last post was that most people don’t do enough networking. Provided you are conducting productive networking activities, then it seems obvious that more activity will produce more results or produce them faster. The most productive networking activities, if done right, are one-on-one meetings and (for remote contacts) one-on-one pre-planned telephone conversations. I recommend 10 of these per week for demanding situations, such as when you are unemployed and spending all your time looking for your next job.

A second reason I suggested people are hurt by networking was that people may come across as self-centered and turn others off. This is especially true of unemployed job seekers. One way to determine if this is a problem is to examine what percent of your meeting times your are talking. Pay attention in your calls and meetings to monitor how you are doing. If you are talking the majority of the time, then it is very possible the other person will see you as self-centered and be less motivated to help you.

A third way career opportunities may be diminished while networking is by not making effective requests for action from the people you meet. If you say things such as “let me know if you hear of something” is a non-specific request and it is highly likely your phone will never ring. Instead, ask for specific help while you have the person engaged, such as “Who do you know in any of my companies of interest? Would you be willing to make a personal introduction of me to them?”

A fourth reason your networking may not be working is because you fail to have a pre-planned agenda that guides your networking conversations. I can’t tell you how many times I have met with job seekers (and even sales people and business owners) who ramble on and on without seeming to be getting to the point. If you requested the meeting or call, then you are responsible for the agenda and for staying on track. This insures your important topics get covered while being considerate of the other person’s time.

There are dozens of other networking factors that can contribute to poor networking results, but the fifth and last item I mentioned in my last blog was that people fail to follow up in a timely manner. In my experience, this has reached epidemic proportions. If you owe someone an action, get it done sooner rather than later and advise them you have completed it. One great strategy is to come away from every networking meeting or call with at least one thing to do for the other person. By giving back and doing it promptly, you model the behavior you want from the other person and thus encourage them to do the same for you.

Networking is a deep subject and, next to job interviewing, is probably the most important skill area that can benefit job seekers and others wanting more from their careers.