Strategic Green Networking: Making the Most of Every Connection

By: Green Career Central

One of the most uncomfortable parts of attending green networking events is knowing you’ll have to introduce yourself to relative strangers in a short period of time.
Depending on your personal style, you may find you respond in one of these ways:

  • You wing it in the moment
  • You avoid the meeting all together
  • You put your game face on and struggle through it
  • Your thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to interact with people who share your interests

No matter how you approach a networking event, you are more likely to get viable results from the experience if you take some time to pre-think your approach to the event.

  • First, you want to determine what you want to get out of the event. Are you looking for leads to particular resources? Trying to meet new people? Identifying another networking group? Finding someone in a particular field. With a specific goal and intention in mind, you’ll receive much more out of your experience.
  • Second, you want to prepare your introduction ahead of time. Typically your introduction will be a concise statement of who you are and what you are interested in or your green career direction. Done effectively, this statement is a conversation starter when you meet people who resonate with you or your direction. You don’t have to tell them everything in one sentence, but enough that they understand who you are, have a way to remember you, and want to know more.

Although your introduction may amount to 15 words or so, it’s an exercise that stops many people in their tracks! Don’t get hung up on your introduction. It’s a starting point in your journey. Here are some tips to give you a new perspective on your intro.

  • Your introduction doesn’t have to be perfect! In fact, your introduction will continue to evolve as you gain more knowledge and insight about your career direction.
  • You can’t evolve and improve your introduction unless you are out in the world interacting with people. It’s these interactions that lead to new discoveries, insights, and focus.
  • Think of your introduction as a working draft. Each time you introduce yourself, experiment with another version. When you notice people “get” what you are saying, remember what they responded to and reuse that wording.
  • Your introduction will change slightly depending on where you are using it. For instance, the way you introduce yourself at a networking function may be different than the way you introduce yourself when meeting one-on-one with a contact or doing an informational interview. You might go into a bit more detail or incorporate more background in certain situations.

As more and more of your contacts understand your focus, you’ll find that you receive referrals that are more focused and relevant to your ultimate green career goal. You’ll feel the momentum build in your job search activities. That’s when you know you are close to getting the kind of position you are targeting.

Case Study

Over the last few years a friend and I have gotten together to walk several times a week. When we first met my friend had a vision about what she wanted to do, but she couldn’t quite get it into words. As she’s worked in several different venues, she continued to refine her vision.

The challenge has always been finding the best way to describe this cutting edge vision to others who don’t know her background and haven’t been on this five year journey with her.

On several occasions I’ve had the opportunity to hear her describe her vision to other people. At first I could tell people weren’t getting what she was talking about. When she started using examples, it got a little better, but it still required far too many words. Here was no way to include her vision in her networking introduction because it took too long to explain!

In the last year she has been actively networking with people about her idea. Refining her introduction each time. Taking nuggets from each conversation, writing them down, and then weaving them into her introduction to make it more powerful and succinct.

Just today she asked me to review a cover letter she’s putting together to apply for her dream job. And there…in her introduction…was an 8 word description of her vision! It’s amazing to witness this journey to clarity.

The great news is that suddenly in the last couple of months she’s been getting referrals to job openings that are a direct fit to her skills. Now that’s momentum! In her clarity she is a very strong, competent candidate! I know a hiring manager is going to be able to see her strengths in a way that haven’t been able to in the past.

Your Next Steps

When you attend your next networking event, take some time to prepare beforehand. Think about the best way to present who you are and what you are looking for.

Copyright © 2010 Transition Dynamics Enterprises, Inc.

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