I hope we all spend a lot of time networking. (To paraphrase René Descartes, the famous French philosopher: I network, therefore I am.)
So you have been hard at it. The FENG Member Directory Search feature is causing smoke to rise from your computer from over use, but incredible as it may seem, you have gotten an appointment with someone on your “A” list for an in person networking meeting.
Now is not the time to slack off. All of the hard work you have put into getting this appointment will be as ashes in your mouth if you don’t prepare properly. Let’s assume you don’t know everything there is to know about this valuable individual. What should you do?
Step one is to Google. Yes, Al Gore’s Internet is one of those valuable tools. You just never know what you can find out. Has this person published any articles you should read? What is his/her background? Many corporations very helpfully provide bios on their key people. Let me assure you that if you haven’t read everything that is publicly available, you are doing yourself a disservice.
I know your fingers are a little tired from running searches of The FENG Membership directory, but let’s not forget that people know people. If you have the time or can make the time, try to find someone who knows this person and can give you a little backgrounder. Does he/she have attention to detail? In other words, how much time will you really have? Why do you think your background might be of interest to them?
Trust me. No one wastes their time. While you are in there on a networking basis, there is always a hidden agenda. Perhaps YOU have some information in which THEY have interest. You may have some valuable insights into what they are doing based on your former employers. One of your many goals is to discover where their interests lie.
One of the best tools to bring with you to (your now virtual meeting) is a target company list. As with all things job search related like your 90-second announcement, it should be brief and targeted. By providing a list of sample companies, you will be helping your networking contact focus his/her mind. Not only that, but they will have something on which to make notes while you are chatting. Names of specific individuals you would like to meet with their titles also wouldn’t be “off the charts.” While they may not know the specific people you want to meet, they may know people with similar titles at similar companies.
And, when you are in there with “Mr./Ms. Big,” remember, God gave you two ears and only one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you talk. I don’t know if Yogi Berra actually said this, but if he didn’t he would have: You can hear a lot just by listening.
Golden opportunities are few and far between in this life, so make the most of every situation.
You just never know when that tiger you have by the tail will turn around and bite you or instead providing you with an incredible link you would never otherwise have had.
Let’s hope for the latter.