North America is the most networked society in the world. A good businessperson always networks to advance their relationships and their brand, and so should you if you want to pursue your career dreams.
There are various types of networking, and as a career coach I would encourage you to embrace them all. However, time is always of the essence in our busy world, even more so if you are gainfully employed.
One medium that has been highly successful for many of my clients is simply picking up the phone to engage in conversation with a person who could be an influencer in generating leads or even your next boss.
Yet telephone networking does not come easily for everybody, in particular an introvert, and can be an uncomfortable journey where one slip of the tongue can dilute your message or give the wrong impression.
As in all networking opportunities, professionalism and confidence are key. Even on the phone, first impressions count. Your ability to converse eloquently is crucial to the success of the conversation and affects both your personal brand and your candidacy for an interview.
If you get voicemail
If you don’t connect with the person when you call, leave a very enticing voicemail to encourage them to return your call. For example, when calling an executive recruiter or HR manager, you might introduce yourself by saying:
“This is the next perfect candidate for the vice president of finance. Why? I am fiscally responsible, acutely aware of compliance, build collaboration across the business, and will fortify and streamline your finance function. Are you interested? Then please call me back so we can expand this conversation.”
Breaking the ice
If you do reach the person live, it’s critical to quickly establish rapport and warm up the person on the other end of the phone. Don’t be too bold in your approach, but try to venture outside stale topics like the weather. If a weekend is approaching, ask about the person’s plans. If the weekend just passed, ask what were the highlights.
Once you’ve broken the ice, pose a compelling question that gets the other person talking, such as asking an executive recruiter, “How are you finding recruitment at my level in finance?” For other interesting question ideas, check out this post.
Scheduling a phone meeting
When you’re trying to get to know a new contact, or stay in touch with an important acquaintance, sometimes scheduling conflicts prohibit meeting in person. Seize the opportunity to advance the relationship by requesting a phone meeting. That way you can avoid telephone tag and you’ll both be prepared for the conversation.
Using an online tool such as ScheduleOnce makes it easy to choose, book, confirm, and keep track of phone appointments, all with a very professional interface that will enhance your personal brand.
When face-to-face networking isn’t possible, you can still build solid relationships with career influencers by using these telephone networking strategies.