Level One is our series for new recruiters and sourcers focused on bringing some of the knowledge from experienced TA professionals to you! To check out our most recent installment of the Level One series, click here.
Networking is useful in nearly every industry, but for recruiters, it’s a necessity. Some people are natural-born networkers and you can watch them in awe at a conference or meeting as they chat with everyone smiling all the way. Others are a bit more reserved and have difficulty working the room.
Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, networking is a part of a recruiter’s life so here are some ways to make it work for you if you’re new to the industry!
Ease In But have Good Intentions
If networking is new to you, try virtual networking before you head to a conference or event. Conferences will sometimes have Facebook groups or other ways to interact with attendees before the day of so you can virtually meet some new people that you can plan to meet up with at the event. Everything is easier with a friend by your side!
You can also simply share people’s posts on social media, tag them, and interact from behind a computer screen even if you don’t have an event coming up. Building relationships through the internet is often easier for people who are more introverted so it’s an excellent way to get started!
Chances are that the person you’re chatting with is also a little bit uncomfortable with the networking process (it can be a little weird!) so presume that everyone is doing their best and trying to just have a good time.
If you’re feeling unsure about how to open conversations, do some brainstorming! Some great questions to open a conversation with are:
- What got you started in recruiting? I’m new myself so I love hearing where everyone started from!
- So what brings you to (insert the event here)?
- I really loved the question you asked in the session this morning! I never thought about it, but you really hit the nail on the head with a problem I was having.
- Have you ever been to (insert city of the event) before? I’ve been looking for a good recommendation for where to go for a couple of hours before my flight tomorrow.
- What are you most excited about at the moment?
- Are there any challenges you’ve been facing recently?
- What’s been your favorite session so far?
Remember that even though you can open the conversation with a question, it’s really nice to share about yourself too! You don’t want to make anyone feel like their being interviewed when they’re just having a conversation so be sure to brainstorm a couple of anecdotes that you can share that would be appropriate.
No one wants to chat with the person who is only half paying attention to a conversation. When you’re conversing with someone, maintain eye contact, smile and nod, laugh at their jokes, and interact like you would with a friend. Beyond just being interested in what they’re sharing, be willing to help. Did they mention that they just got a new puppy? Share some of the tips that helped you train yours. Are they wearing a shirt with your favorite band on it? Talk to them about the album you love. Sharing those interests will create a connection that will make any conversation a little less awkward.
Embrace the awkward
It’s going to be awkward. You’ll probably laugh weirdly loud or do something strange with your hands and that’s okay. Remember that everyone is in the exact same boat as you and is working through their own insecurities so there’s no need to put undue pressure on yourself. Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would treat your best friend. Remember, everyone who came to the event did so with the intention of learning and meeting new people so the playing field is totally level.
*Cue High School Musical*
If you’ve really connected with someone at an event, reach out to them afterward! You can always get their info when you’re speaking face-to-face but if you forget, this is a great time to get on social media and reach out to them that way. Send them an article or video that reminded you of them to reopen the conversation. If they were willing to have a conversation with you in person, it’s pretty likely that they’re willing to continue it online.
Remember that building out your professional network is about more than Twitter followers or how many people endorse you on LinkedIn. It’s about giving help when you can and asking for help when you need it. Now get out there and talk to some people!