Archive for October 2010
I recently attended a seminar put on by ESPN and a few hiring managers. The team of people was invited by the University of Florida to talk to students about potential career opportunities with ESPN and ESPN affiliates.
One of the main questions that came up during the seminar was about networking. A student asked “what advice do you have for networking, what can we avoid, and what can we do to maintain good contacts with people in your type of industry?”
This question immediately had the ESPN representatives chuckling, and the Production Manager stood up and said that the idea of networking is plagued by several misnomers. Networking is not simply just collecting business cards for future referencing, but it is about building genuine relationships.
Networking for business
This idea really had me thinking because I consistently write about how social media marketing and scrupulous business practices have a tendency to revolve around the development of relationships. So I tuned in a little closer.
“Networking is about building long term relationships, not pestering a mentor, a client, or a potential partner all the time…if you are communicating with someone more than once a quarter, it may be too much,” she said.
I find this idea extremely interesting because due to today’s technology, it is so easy to communicate with people anytime, anywhere. So keeping in touch once per quarter seems like I would be easily forgettable.
It comes down to this: it’s not about how much you communicate with an individual; it’s about how you do it. What kinds of questions do you ask them? How much do you know about their field of interest before you ask your questions? Be honest, genuine, and professional. Networking is about building relationships, yes – but professional relationships.
What not to do
Don’t pitch too early. Whether you are looking for a new position or trying to sell a new product, the exchange of business cards is not permission to launch into an over practiced sales pitch. You lose the trust (and quite frankly the interest) of whomever you’re speaking to.
Don’t assume closeness. Relationships take time to build and nurture. Think about the relationships you have with your friends, although you may have felt an immediate connection, it took time to build trust and understanding. Trying to latch on to a connection too soon can send them running.