Networking skills can be invaluable in a competitive job market. Building the right network can sometimes mean the difference between struggling to find a job, and discovering a back door to realising your dream job.
Professional networking is a skill that takes time to develop, and one that you will more than likely pursue for the remainder of your career. We’ve provided some straightforward methods to improve your networking skills to deliver results.
The key to business, and a successful job hunt in Hong Kong, is building strong relationships over time with people. Before you ask for help it is very important to offer something first. You want to be someone who is perceived to offer value, and a positive and useful connection to have.
To build a network of professional friends, you need to be open, honest, and genuinely engaged in their causes. Be more interested in their needs than your own; ask open-ended questions and get to know them as people first and sources of help.
Keeping in contact
With the prevalence of social media, people in Hong Kong are so used to ‘collecting’ social friends as a form of ‘networking’ that people are becoming increasingly disconnected. Good networking skills are not gaining new contacts on LinkedIn; networking is developing relationships over time that is mutually beneficial but may be able to aid you in a job hunt or business venture either initially or in the future.
Prioritise efforts that develop strong long-term relationships with important connections.
Leverage on influential connections
In networking, as in sales, the key to success is prioritising leads that are more likely to yield results. Whilst somewhat calculated, this approach is a normal process in determining the people we should engage with, whether socially or professionally.
The criteria you use to determine influence is determined by your goals, but it all starts from knowing what you want to achieve, and then plotting the logical next steps from that point onwards.
Most people don’t see returns straight away and then give up, but if you want to see results, you need to invest time into business networking over an extended period of time.
Developing your business networking skills is a long term investment and not a short term fix. By remaining positive, you will ensure that when you do finally meet someone that can help you, you will still be able to give both a great first impression, and also a strong reason why they should help you in your job hunt.
Improve your emailing skills
Whilst social media has become an important part of our Hong Kong life, nothing beats a well written email. Emails remain the dominant method of communication in business, but there are some key points to get your email read and acted upon. Always keep the email short, easy to ready, and focus mainly on the recipient.
It is always a good idea to do a little research into the recipient beforehand, and then tailor the email to mention shared contacts, interests or specific things they have done that have made an impression.
Go in with no expectations
Resist the urge to raise expectations on a single meeting, job, company or possible connection. The perfect networking event or connection is merely the one which provides the desired result. By placing huge importance to single meetings or people, you are limiting your control over the situation.
This can leave you more vulnerable to negative feelings or depression and is best to avoid. No matter how promising a job opportunity sounds, always keep the job search going to avoid disappointment.
Focus your networking skills
The counter point to ensuring that you are always adding value to others in your network, is to expect the same in return. Networking should be mutually beneficial, so if you have some connections that always seem to be asking for that little extra help without offering any value themselves, it could be time to deprioritise them.
This is a personal call, but by focusing on a quality business network over a large but ineffective one, you will be able to prioritise your resources and time better and attain greater results.
Work on your communication skills
Good communication skills are the most important factor in differentiating successful individuals in business. We all know of people that are incredibly intelligent but lack the ability to communicate effectively, limiting their career progression. In networking, people are generally willing to help, but if you are unable to communicate what you want effectively, they will be unable to act upon it.
Hone an impressive elevator pitch
The 30-second elevator pitch remains a constant in the world of business networking. People pass judgements on others very quickly, so the elevator pitch is extremely useful for summarising what value we offer in as few words as possible.
Make sure your pitch exudes passion and personality, on top of key milestones and achievements.
Understand that position doesn’t always indicate influence
Within any organisation there is a unique blend of politics and influence which can be difficult to penetrate from the outside. For some companies, CEOs and managers may be reluctant to respond to you due to the open position being too entry level, or they may simply trust other colleague’s opinions over their own on hiring decisions.
This is another example of just how important it is to perform extensive research on preferred organisations to get a better understanding of who holds influence, and how they may be able to help you.