Everyone likes being efficient. And most people feel somewhat awkward in meeting new people.
So, most people in a job search try to do their “networking” online and over the phone. It seems more efficient in being able to get to more people faster, and it’s less intimidating to send someone an email than to meet face-to-face.
Results, however, are FAR greater from those face-to-face meetings than countless phone calls and emails.
Do they take more time, effort and risk? Definitely. However, the potential outcomes far exceed the alternatives!
Contemplate these considerations…
You’ve got their attention!
There is no substitute for gaining someone’s full attention than to meet them face-to-face. Email responses are easy to procrastinate, and it’s easy to be distracted while on the phone. A meeting in-person, however, becomes more personal and requires more engagement. When they are fully engaged, it’s easier for things to pop to mind for them in your discussion. People, companies, ideas and recommendations come up that they would never have thought of from quickly reviewing an email or partially listening to a phone call.
You have an opportunity to make a better impression
In an email, they have no idea whether you make a professional personal impression or not. In a phone conversation, while you may sound professional, they have no idea whether you might be inclined to show up to a business meeting in a suit or in slippers and a robe. In a face-to-face meeting, they can see how you present yourself, and can gain a greater sense of confidence in referring you to their additional business acquaintances. Professionalism matters. People always make judgments that affect whether they are willing to refer you to others or not. The best way to create the right impression, is in-person.
You have more time
While a networking meeting should never take a great deal of time out of a person’s day, a 20 or 30 minute meeting is certainly likely to be longer than you would have their attention in an email or on the phone. The additional time can be used very effectively to learn more about them, allow them to understand your skills and objectives better, and think about ideas, advice and referrals.
Be deliberate in seeking meetings, and be deliberate in how you run them. You are the one that asked for the meeting, so the burden is on you to run it efficiently. Don’t expect your contact to drive the conversation or know what you want. Be concise, be professional, be direct, and humbly ask for what you are seeking.
There are ample other materials about how to do an effective meeting. However, be sure to get as many meetings as you can!
There is no substitute for face-to-face networking meetings!
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.