Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to advance one’s career. According to a LinkedIn article, 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. And if you're interested in careers in athletics, Coaching is largely part of the hidden job market, which is only accessed by networking. While networking may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s essential in succeeding in today’s coaching industry. Below are some tips that should help you master the art of networking in any industry.
- Create Your Pitch. Your elevator pitch is a 30 second or less introduction that summarizes who you are and what you want to do, while opening the door for additional conversation. Have a few sentences memorized that highlight who you are within 30 seconds. Timing is important, because if your pitch is beyond 30 seconds you risk losing the listener.
- Set Goals. The ultimate goal should be relationship building but set small goals to stay focused. For example, finding out how each person you connect with got into their field.
- Create a Target resume. Have a target resume prepared to hand out tailored to your target audience or potential employer.
- Have business cards/contact information ready. Whether you are employed or not be sure to have plenty of business cards handy to pass out and exchange with others.
- Introduction and Body Language. Introduce yourself with your name and a firm handshake. Be sure to stand up tall and keep eye contact.
- Be interested, not interesting. Show interest in what the other person does. This is a time to learn about all the different options that are out there and what the day in the life of a particular job might be like. You cannot hear valuable information if you are doing all the talking. Be an attentive listener.
- Do not ask for a job. Very few people hire on the spot. This can be a turn-off and you run the risk of losing a connection that could assist you with getting a job later or connecting you with someone they know is hiring.
- Take Note. Immediately after the event, write a short reminder of something that stuck out about the person you met on the back of each business card you have collected.
- Follow-Up. Follow-up as soon as possible. Hand written notes are preferred but a short email can allow for you to create dialogue with the person.
- Be Respectful of time. Be mindful of how much you contact someone or how much you ask of him or her. There are no rules for how many phone calls or emails you can send but it doesn’t hurt to ask the person to get an idea of what they’re comfortable with and how they prefer to be contacted.
- Build Relationships. Networking is a two-way street. Give the person a reason to want to help you. Think of things you can give or do for them.