Silicon Prairie News

Turn your socializing into networking

February 11, 2012 by Guest Contributor

About the author: This is a guest post by Jeff Beals, an award-winning Omaha author who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.

Editor's note: With the upcoming Silicon Prairie News Startup Job Crawl on our minds, we've invited Jeff Beals to share his advice to students on how to get the most out of the event. For more about our Feb. 15 Omaha Startup Job Crawl, visit our registration page.

Attendees of the Des Moines Startup Job Crawl in November speak with Dwolla CEO Ben Milne.

Three-quarters of all jobs are never advertised!

They are part of the "hidden job market," and they go to people who are promoted from within, know the right persons or have jobs specially created for their unique skills. In order to get one of these hidden jobs, you must be in the right place at the right time and know the right people.

Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term career success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to "meet a lot of people and build a network." That was great advice back then and even better advice today.

It's critically important to participate in the public arena and interact with the people who could become your future boss, provide you with valuable information or help you further your causes and beliefs.

While they understand the importance of networking, many professionals – especially the less experienced ones – do a lousy job of it. It's easy to show up at an event, grab a drink, eat some free hors d'oeuvres, say "hi" to a couple people, then go home and pat yourself on the back for being involved in the community.

Unfortunately, that's not networking. It's merely socializing.

There's nothing wrong with socializing. In fact, it's generally a good thing, but it's not efficient. In order to convert socializing into networking, you need to have a three-tiered goal planted in your mind before you even enter the venue where networking will take place.

I call it "goal-based networking," and here's how it works:

Goal #1

"I will get a direct opportunity"

This could be a new client, an invitation to join a prestigious organization, a job offer, a promise to donate money to your pet cause. While Goal #1 is ideal, it unfortunately doesn't happen at most networking events.

Goal #2

"I will get a solid lead on a direct opportunity"

This is almost as good as the first goal, because it moves you closer to what you really want. Goal #2 should happen at the vast majority of networking events you attend. If it doesn’t, you’re not meeting enough people or not asking the right questions.

Goal #3

"I will meet new people and learn valuable information"

This is the bare-bones minimum goal that you should achieve at every single networking event you attend.

Make a commitment to network more and remember to think about these three goals before walking into your next networking event. Setting these goals consistently over a long period of time will maximize the return from your investments in networking. That means you increase your public profile, connect with the right people and become that person who always seems to know about opportunities long before your colleagues do.


About the author: Jeff Beals is an award-winning author who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. You can learn more and follow his "Business Motivation Blog" at

Find Beals on Twitter, @jeff_beals.

Image credits: Photo of the Startup Job Crawl by Brittany Mascio. Photo of Jeff Beals courtesy of Beals

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