Job Networking With Confidence

Last Updated Apr 29, 2009 12:47 PM EDT

Many older managers mistakenly think networking is an evil word, a process full of self-promotion and glad-handing. Truth is, in tough times, networking is about building a safety net of associates that has your back, and about you being part of a safety net for others in your group.

On Harvard Business Publishing, Jill Corkindale writes a cracking good post for job-seeking managers about simple ways to improve their networking skills in 6 Networking Mistakes And How to Avoid Them.

Her list, which I've summarized very briefly here, can make you feel more confident as you head into any networking event, be it a job fair or a one-on-one meet and greet. Read her post for more in-depth tips.

  1. First, sit down for 10 minutes and compile a list of the people you know: co-workers, business contacts, friends. This is your initial contact list to mine for job leads and introductions to other contacts. It will be longer than you think.
  2. When introducing yourself, emphasize your interests and capabilities in future positions rather than what you did in past gigs.
  3. Tell stories that demonstrate your skills rather than reciting a laundry list of assets. Corkindale recommends stories based on STAR: Situation, Task, Achievements, Results.
  4. Don't just show up at an event; learn the art of working a room or contact.
  5. Don't criticize the company or person that laid you off.
  6. Say thank you.
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.