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How These Three Networking Tips Landed Me My Dream Job
If you would have told me a year ago that I would obtain my dream career through a networking event, I might have looked at you like you were crazy. For as long as I could remember, I envisioned networking events as a place where I was likely to be dressed inappropriately, engaged in awkward conversations, and left wondering if the potential employer even remembered my name. When I made the decision to obtain a high-powered career, I knew that I had to sharpen my networking skills if I ever wanted to reach my goal. Here are the top three lessons I learned that ultimately help me get my dream job.
Lesson 1: Avoid Peacocking, Please
The peacock principle suggests that you should wear an outfit that is loud and flashy with the goal of standing out at networking events. I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this, but during my early years of networking right after I graduated from college, I once showed up to a business mingle wearing a blue plaid leisure suit that was complete with one of my matching Dress Belts and black Men dress shoes. I was truly that kid from a ’70s movie.
The reason why I wore the ensemble was to catch the eye of one of the most coveted financial firms in my college town, but I didn’t receive the positive response I was expecting. When other networkers couldn’t hide their stares, I quickly questioned my outfit decision. There were people in smart blue and black suits all around me, and I was mortified in my 1970s costume.
Making the decision to stand out among a room of networkers by peacocking is an extremely high risk strategy. The result of wearing an inappropriate outfit with black dress shoes is usually low self-confidence and embarrassment. How will you impress any employer if you are unsure of yourself?
In my experience, it’s best to sport a basic blue, black, or grey suit with black dress shoes for men so that you can blend in with the networking group. In order to make a memorable impression, consider focusing on creating genuine connections with potential employers of interest.
Lesson 2: Always Be Yourself
Even though you are at a business event, you don’t have to treat the networking opportunity like a rigid and formal occasion where you have to go to great lengths to impress everyone. In the past, I would spend so much time focusing on getting the job to the point where my 15-second elevator pitch sounded stiff and impersonal.
Don’t make the mistake of your prepared personal pitch sounding something like this: “Hi! I’m Brian Long. I am an investment manager. I went to a prestigious university where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Business. During my college pursuits, I worked part-time at a Shoe Company. In recent years, I have worked for two of the major investment firms in the country. I believe that successful financial planning is key to a bright future.”
Are you asleep yet? The problem with sticking too much to a script is that you bore the listener. While listening to your pitch, you better hope that the potential employer doesn’t start to think that even a PowerPoint presentation would be more interesting than hearing you speak.
Instead of focusing on me, me, me, I quickly learned to construct a captivating elevator pitch that showed how an employer could actually benefit from my unique skill sets.
Here is the elevator pitch that landed me my dream job as a hedge fund manager at a top hedge fund in New York City.
Lesson 3: The Follow-Up is Important
“Hi! I’m Brian, and I provide excellent investment advice to clients through the use of a full suite of financial planning tools. For example, I have helped a client develop a diverse portfolio so that he and his wife can have peace of mind during their future retirement. I have also recruited and properly trained new financial advisors for the past three years. Do you know any hedge funds in the area that need assistance with growing their assets?”
The best elevator pitches will immediately grab the listener’s attention and focus on how the networker can use your skills sets at his/her company.
If you have gotten this far in my networking guide, you have most likely mastered the art of dressing sharp and engaging in interesting conversation. Congratulations!
The last lesson that I learned during my networking journey was to always follow-up with potential employers. When you take the time to send a thank you note, you are showing the company of interest that you are serious about your job search and value their time.
Sending a potential employer a LinkedIn request on the bus ride home can ensure that you stay on their mind. Composing a hand-written thank you note will also create a favorable impression.
But whipping out your phone to send a follow-up email in the middle of the conversation with a potential employer will only ensure that you stay on their bad side.