Our panel of career experts answers your questions about business networking and career development.
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Q. What are some unique strategies for networking with community agencies when your agency deals with less than popular clientele? Also, what are ways to network with upper level management within your own industry when you are entry or lower level management?
A. Before owning First Impression Career Services, LLC I worked as a job
placement specialist for an agency that assisted displaced homemakers and
adult literacy participants reenter the job market. My role was to develop
job opportunities with local agencies and organizations. What I learned was
company representatives weren't interested in what my clients challenges
were, they just wanted to know if they could do the job.
Develop a process for screening your clients to uncover their strengths,
skills, and experience. Key in to what makes your clients uniquely qualified
for opportunities offered by these agencies.
Regardless of who you are representing, people want to know what's in it for
them. Identifying what it is that your population can do and why they can do
it better than the competition will lead to greater success.
For your own career development, try attending association and industry
meetings that the upper level managers attend. Seek out their advise and
guidance for your own career development by requesting a brief meeting with
them. Ask them what their career path was like. What are the traits that
makes someone successful in your industry. What advice would they give to
someone starting out in your field. What are the changes and trends they see
happening. Ask them if you can contact them if you have any further
questions and always remember to send a thank you note immediately after
Anne-Marie Ditta, CEIP, CPRW, CCMC
About the Author:
Anne-Marie Ditta, CEIP, CPRW, CCMC
First Impression Career Services
"Your Career, It's More Than A Paycheck"
1-877-HIRED-11 / 914-961-0579
"I joined Networking for Professionals and am already benefiting from it. Within a month of joining I have received new business opportunities and have greatly expanded my resource base for myself and my clients. NFP works!"
Jeffrey T. Spiegel, CPA
Q. When is it the right time, in a business relationship, to ask for a favor?
A. It depends what kind of relationship and what kind of favor. The less imposing the favor, the sooner you can probably ask. It's also helpful to set up the request, by casually asking the other person, "Would it be alright if I called you sometime to talk to you more about X?" This way, you can gauge their response to see how amenable they are to your impending request, and they won't be surprised when you actually ask them! - Rebecca Zucker
Q. Any tips on how to write a compelling first email that will get the attention of a potential business contact?
A. To get someone's attention, there are 3 things: referrals, referrals, and more referrals. In terms of keeping their attention - keep it short and sweet. Same goes for voicemails. Busy people don't have time for text-heavy emails or babbling voicemails.- Rebecca Zucker
Q. What are some of the best ways to touch base with business contacts when you don't have a referral to offer?
A. If you don't have a referral - find one! It may take time and you may have to be resourceful, going through a whole chain of people before you get the right name to contact, but think of the people you will meet and the information you will gather along the way! - Rebecca Zucker
Q. How do you know if someone is a good contact and will refer you business? Are there ways of telling whether someone is a giver and will reciprocate if you refer them business, before you begin a relationship?
A. You never know where and from whom new business will come. As for generosity, you can probably gauge this by the person's level of sincerity when you are talking to them. If they appear to be phony and only have their own agenda in mind, they probably won't be too much of a "giver" - Rebecca Zucker
Q. I'm planning on going to some networking events in the upcoming months. What is the appropriate etiquette in exchanging business cards? Should you ask for a card before your offer your own?
A. It depends on how the conversation goes. Assuming you are talking to a person that you would actually like to follow up with, take the initiative and ask them if they have a business card and if it be ok if you followed up with them. Then give them your card in exchange as a courtesy so they can more easily remember who you are. - Rebecca Zucker