A few weeks ago, fellow NEXTer Ping Niou gave us six strategies for networking online and in person. I’ll wait while you go read her awesome article.
Okay, you’re back. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Ping’s strategies are especially important at this time of year! You have lots of down time and access to people who 1) care about you 2) are older than you and 3) you don’t see very often. Perfect networking opportunity (and Forbes agrees).
It’s great… UNTIL you get asked that super-tough question, “How can I help?”
How many of you have been in that situation? I have. How many of you have stumbled and said, “Uh, well, I don’t know right now, but I’ll let you know!” I have. Can you say awkward/missed opportunity?
There are (clearly) better ways to respond. In college, I developed these five go-to responses. All of them start with some variation of, “Oh, that’s so nice of you to ask! You know…”
- I would love for you to look over my resume. Could I email it to you for feedback?
- I’m looking to speak with people in xxxx industry (or in xxxxxx job function). Do you know of anyone I should talk with? Would you mind introducing me?
- I’m trying to translate my (school/work/internship) experience to my resume. What do you think a hiring manager would find most valuable about that experience?
- I’d love to hear any networking tops you have. Do you belong to any associations or groups that are especially helpful?
- The toughest interview question I’ve encountered is (insert it here). How would you answer that?
You’ll choose your response depending on how you think the person can be most helpful. However you respond, thank them, explain your need, then — and this is key — toss it back to them with a question.
And of course, at the end of the conversation, you can always say, “I’m looking for a job (or internship) in (name your ideal field — marketing, IT, etc.). Would you keep your eyes and ears open for me?”
Your turn. What do you tell people who ask how they can help?