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How To Network Your Way Into a Job Without Looking Desperate

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You hopefully know by now that networking is the only real way into your dream job. But are you doing it right?

Last week I experienced the ultimate networking experience. Let’s say hello to Ginny.

Ginny emailed me a week ago. Her subject line was, “I think I love cupcakes more than you.” She got five points in my book right off the bat. See, on my blog’s About page, I talk about my cupcake addition. So she clearly knew who I was and had read my blog, wrote a personal email to me (she didn’t copy and paste) and added a fun touch instead of trying too hard to be overly professional.

Ginny said she too was an American who had recently moved to New Zealand and was looking to getting into digital marketing/social media. She knew I was busy, but would I horribly mind meeting up to tell her a bit about my job and what I do?

Her email was short. Just four or five sentences. Another five bonus points.

Because her email was so charming, I said yes. Plus, it’s rare you meet other Americans in New Zealand, so it was really a treat for me!

She got another five points by being flexible with her schedule. I said I was busy and could only meet Friday afternoon. I chose a cafe right next door to my office and she didn’t complain about having to come to me. Instead, she researched the location, arrived early and offered to buy my coffee.

Then, she simply blew me away with her charm. She asked questions, talked about her experience and I told her a bit about my day-to-day. She was professional without being stuffy and was clearly looking for a job but never shoved her resume in my face or demanded an interview. She was clearly and genuinely interested with my industry, career and listened to what I had to say. Add five points.

She didn’t keep me for more than an hour. She respected my time. THEN, she ended by giving me a little gift. She brought me a cute notebook with a cupcake on the cover. Plus one million points.

The next day I woke up to an email from her thanking me for my time and TELLING ME EXACTLY HOW I HELPED. She puffed up my ego and made me feel good about myself without brown-nosing.

For the past two years, Ginny is the only person I’ve ever met who’s really impressed me.

More often than not, people network like this:

1. Cold emails that get sent to anyone and everyone.

2. Expecting people have hours of time to devote to helping someone they’ve never met.

3. Sending through their resume before you even get to know them.

4. When you do help, they never thank you.

What kind of networker are you? Do you make these mistakes or do you really personalize the experience? I promise you 40,000 points that if you do like Ginny, you’ll be just fine.

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at marianlibrarian.com.

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41 comments

  1. Excellent post Marian and thanks for highlighting these best practices.

    You hit the nail on the head that many people almost expect someone else just to give them their time. One networking practice I’ve had success with is to approach getting a person I want to meet with by adding value to their life prior to even asking for their time. Value can take the form of feedback, introductions, or addressing a specific need that’s publicly available on their website like hiring.

    I’ve found that when you approach people this way, they’ll often suggest you getting together before you have even broached asking for their time. Even when this is not the case, they’re more likely to carve out some time for you because you’ve already made time to add value to their life.

    Keep up the great writing!

  2. Great post! It’s true, networking well is a fine art. There’s a line between being a networking superstar and turning off employers by being desperate. Another great way to request an informational meeting is to see if the employer can speak to you using online video interviewing. This way there’s no travel involved and the time you’re asking the employer to take out of their schedule is minimal. But you should still do everything listed in this article, including sending a nice thank you note after the interview!

  3. Awesome post! This reminded me of someone named Ginny who contacted me in a very similar way. But instead of cupcakes, she wished me a Happy Halloween, since this was last October and I’ve mentioned multiple times on my blog that it’s the best holiday of the whole year. Ginny and I ended up chatting on Skype, and now she’s living in Beijing (where I lived for 2.5 years.) I was more than happy to help out someone who started the conversation in a friendly, personalized, and non-annoying way. I’ll have to direct her to your post.

  4. Such wisdom, Schembari. I think selling anything (including yourself) is easiest when you totally believe in it. Ginny totally understands her brand (her self) and knows how to make the most of it. Hard not to admire such drive and confidence.

  5. Great article, Marian! This is truly a good example of making a networking connection that many job seekers could learn from. The typical networking scenario many hiring managers experience is that of desperation for a job. There is not respect, tact, or interest in building a meaningful relationship with the person they are attempting to network with. Sadly, networking out of desperation won’t get job seekers hired or help them learn anything about the industry.

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  8. This doesn’t strike anyone as manipulative?

    Also, it’s tough out there in the job market. It’s really weird to watch people who’ve never had to compete in this severe of a job market sit back and judge others with this “Desperation? Eww!” tone.

  9. Marian. I’m so glad you posted this. So many networking articles are written from an intellectual point of view “do this… don’t do that”, etc.
    I hope your article brings the lesson home for many.
    Thanks again.

  10. Pingback: How to network your way into a job without looking desperate | Succes met je Talent | Scoop.it

  11. So stroking your ego = impressed? Certainly you want to be a considerate networker and not some pain in the ass, entitled sloth, but why put on a false front when both parties know why they’re meeting, why there will be feigned interest in the other person, compliments, “Oh Wows”, ego stroking and a little gift at the end.

  12. How? I think this is a question many people ask. What is shared here are quite realistic. I will wait for the next can share the better.

  13. S

    This may work for young (attractive) females. But for 50+ year old white males, nadda. I can’t imagine emailing someone to meet “up to tell her a bit about my job and what I do”. First they would think you’re some kind of perv and then they would not want to give any precious time to some middle-aged clown. What a joke.

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    You have given some great tips for not looking desperate to get the job. We should brand our self by not showing our insecurity of losing the job.

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  16. Guest

    Can anyone make an interpretation of this experience from a guys perspective? I don’t think I can get away with giving another man a cupcake notebook.

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