Mastering the Art of Networking Conversations When Job Hunting

In the competitive landscape of job hunting and career change its proven that networking stands out as a crucial tool for landing your dream role or change. Yet I observe my own coaching clients struggle to initiate networking connections and conversations, finding them daunting, leaving them insecure and unsure of where/how to begin.

However, with a strategic approach and a genuine interest in building connections it is proven that you can unlock a world of opportunities and make some valuable and long-term connections – and it’s enjoyable!

I have outlined in this article some ideas on how to kickstart networking conversations and make meaningful connections on your career journey – whether that is seeking internal promotion, career move, career change or adding a side-hustle; all of these need a strategy.

I hear the most common networking fear is when at in-person events, having to overcome the idea of walking up to someone you don’t know at an event—and need to start a conversation.

It’s somewhat easier than it sounds – however no one is going to turn you away if you walk up, smile, and say, “I’m xxxxxx, nice to meet you.” (It’s likely they will probably be relieved that someone else started a conversation!)

Walking up to someone and saying

Hi, I’m XXX “What’s your story”.


Hi, I’m XXX, what do you do?

Hi, I’m XX, what brings you to this event?

And so on – always keep it natural.

I have outlined some ideas below on how to plan networking approaches or conversations and make meaningful connections on your career journey – whether that is seeking internal promotion, career move, career change or adding a side-hustle; all these need strategy!

Before reaching out to potential contacts, take the time to research their background, interests, and current endeavours.  This not only demonstrates your genuine interest but also provides valuable talking points to initiate a conversation. Craft your approach based on the individual’s industry, role, and any shared interests you have identified to establish a strong foundation for meaningful dialogue.

Plan; start your networking conversation with a compelling introduction that grabs the recipient’s attention and clearly communicates your purpose but is not a ‘selfish pitch’ – this is a two-way conversation!  Briefly introduce yourself, highlight your relevant skills or experiences, and express your interest in connecting to discuss mutual interests or potential opportunities. Keep it concise, engaging, and personalised to make a memorable first impression – sometimes this is called the elevator pitch (which often makes people cringe!)  The best introductions I see are genuine, information and personable.

Don’t hesitate to share your own career story and aspirations during networking conversations. Be always natural: authenticity and a level of vulnerability foster a sense of connection, plus make you more relatable to your contacts.   Share relevant experiences, challenges you’ve overcome, and your career or business goals to give your contacts a better understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for in your job search.

Networking is a two-way street, so look for opportunities to offer value to your contacts. Whether it’s sharing industry insights, introducing them to relevant connections, or offering assistance with their projects, demonstrating your willingness to support or even contribute can strengthen your relationship and increase the likelihood of receiving support in return.

After the initial networking conversation, don’t forget to follow up and express your gratitude for the opportunity to connect. Send a personalised thank-you email, reference something specific from your conversation, and express your interest in staying in touch. Consistent follow-up and ongoing communication are essential for nurturing relationships and maintaining your network over time.

Leverage online networking platforms such as LinkedIn or Professionals UK to expand your network and connect with professionals in your industry of interest. Personalise your connection requests with a brief message highlighting your shared interests or mutual connections to increase the likelihood of acceptance. Engage with your connections by commenting on their posts, sharing relevant content, and initiating meaningful conversations.

One of the most effective ways to kickstart networking conversations is by asking thoughtful questions which encourage dialogue and demonstrate your genuine interest in learning from the other person. Ask open-ended questions about their career journey, industry insights, or recent accomplishments. Active listening and genuine curiosity will pave the way for deeper connections and valuable insights.

Before reaching out for an informational meeting, it’s essential to have some background knowledge about the person you’re contacting and how you believe they can provide valuable insights.

Here are some potential questions to ask in various scenarios:

Can you share with me your career journey and how you reached your current position?

What initially attracted you to this line of work?

Looking back, what do you wish you had known when you first entered this field?

Could you recommend any industry publications, professional associations, or events that I should explore for further information?

Are there any other individuals you would suggest I connect with for additional insights?

How do you envision the company’s trajectory over the next five years?

What emerging trends do you foresee impacting your organization and the industry?

In your opinion, what are the primary demands for your company’s services or products?

What sets your company apart from its competitors?

If you had to identify three defining characteristics of your workplace culture, what would they be?

What qualities do you believe contribute to success within this industry?

How do you think employees would describe the overall workplace environment?

These questions serve as a starting point for meaningful discussions and can help you gain valuable insights into both the individual’s career path and the dynamics of their company. Remember to tailor your questions to the specific context and objectives of your informational meeting.

Mastering the art of networking conversations requires a combination of preparation, authenticity, and genuine interest in building relationships. By approaching networking with a strategic mindset and a willingness to connect with others, you can unlock valuable opportunities and accelerate your job search or career development journey. So, don’t hesitate to reach out, start conversations, and cultivate meaningful connections that can lead to exciting future prospects.

Thame Buzz Business Networking

Thame Business Buzz Networking

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