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Whether you’re looking to hire, looking for a new career, or just want to know what we’ve been up to, the Greene Resources blog has the information you need to get started.

What’s New In Triangle Hiring?

Wake County Economic Development, the City of Raleigh, and Capital Area Workforce Development Board recently partnered to survey 15 counties surrounding the Triangle to identify areas of growth and skills needs in our region.  This survey was conducted by one of our partners, RTI International, and its distribution and efforts were supported by close to 50 local organizations.

On February 13, the results of this survey on Triangle hiring trends were shared along with solutions that currently exist, challenges that need to be met, and opportunities that exist to create stronger partnerships in the area.  

Overview of Triangle Hiring:

  • Continued Business Growth: 73% of companies surveyed expect to grow within the next three years. Industries that were most likely to grow in this region include construction and skilled trades, life sciences, and IT, software, and analytics.  Many of the companies that expect to grow are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, but expected growth was maintained across company sizes.  Business growth is not limited to lower level positions; companies are looking to add supervisors, managers, and other skilled positions to their business.
  • Quality of Talent: Across the region, businesses rate the talent in our region as above average – 3.14 out of 5 stars. Businesses in STEM tend to rank talent as a 3.4 or higher, demonstrating a higher satisfaction than other industries in the talent they have. Businesses in the hospitality or construction industries demonstrated a lower satisfaction rating regarding their talent pool. 
  • Education Requirements: Close to half of all businesses reported wanting talent that had a college degree. Other industries, like manufacturing and construction, emphasized a greater importance in having professional certifications or an apprenticeship instead of a four-year degree. 
  • Tools and Resources for Sourcing Talent: The number one resource for most businesses in locating talent is networking and internal referrals. While networking and referrals remain a strong tool for businesses to hire employees, it is not as effective for businesses who place a high emphasis on the importance of diversity in their employees, as internal employees tend to refer friends or connections who are like themselves regarding age, gender, race, and personal interests.
  • Valued Soft Skills: The top three valued soft skills that businesses reported as lacking in their talent pool include taking initiative, critical thinking, and self-discipline.
  • Hiring Challenges: Major hiring challenges in our region include 1) a rapidly growing industry need that is outpacing the supply of talent in that field, 2) an interest gap in manufacturing or skilled labor, where there are fewer people interested in entering that field, 3) employers seeking skills that the talent pool simply does not possess, 4) businesses want educators to make their courses relevant, but educators do not always have the necessary industry skills to do so effectively, and 5) the talent pool for mid-tier positions have a lack of professional experience for the roles that need to be filled.
  • Apprenticeships/Internships: Businesses regularly express the importance of their talent pool having experience in an apprenticeship or internship, however, most businesses do not plan to or do not currently have an apprenticeship or internship program in place.

Triangle hiring continues to grow and there is a high demand for qualified talent.  The Triangle is a great place for career growth and there are ample opportunities for job seekers to find new roles, and according to this report, is also a great region to obtain talent, specifically in STEM fields. 

Nevertheless, businesses need to begin to take ownership of providing training and resources to their prospective and current employees, both while they are employed and through partnering with schools and colleges in the area.  Providing opportunities for apprenticeships, internships, or contract roles will give workers a chance to develop the soft and technical skills so coveted by local businesses. 

At Greene Resources, we are always looking for new ways to connect job seekers with employers to create purposeful, impactful, and long-term careers.  If you’re looking for creative solutions to your hiring challenges, we would love to discuss them with you to see how we can help your business, and our region, grow and thrive.

NC TECH’s State of Technology Industry Report Briefing

NC TECH recently released their annual North Carolina State of Technology Industry Report (STIR), which provides an overview of the tech sector in North Carolina and contains trends, statistics, details, and predictions regarding the industry’s development in our state.  On February 7, 2018, NC TECH held their annual NC STIR Briefing.  Ted Abernathy, Managing Director for Economic Leadership, presented the highlights and key findings of the report.

The full report can be accessed here.  Here are some of the highlights from the briefing.

Technology Industry by the Numbers:

  • The United States has experienced 88 consecutive months of employment growth, the longest length of experienced growth on record. This trend has begun to slowly decline over the past three years, so a change in the job market is likely to happen in the near future.
  • North Carolina has outperformed or maintained the national average for employment growth for the past three years. The low unemployment rate is great news for job seekers but makes it difficult for businesses to find the talent that they need.
  • In 2016, the tech industry employed over 247,000 people and was worth $82 billion in sales revenue in the state of North Carolina.
  • Technology accounts for 5.8% of all jobs in the state, but almost 11% of the state’s total wage earnings and sales.

North Carolina’s Latest Rankings:

  • North Carolina is the #1 state in the nation for having the highest percentage of its tech workforce made up of women (36.5%).
  • Tech employment is estimated to grow 10.4% from now until 2022 in North Carolina, ranking NC the #2 state in the country for highest expected tech sector employment growth.
  • In the past five years, North Carolina has demonstrated the 3rd highest job growth rate in the tech sector nationwide, at a rate of 17.4%. The national average is 7.7%.
  • North Carolina ranks 4th in higher education research and development in science and engineering.

Given all these numbers, rankings, and statistics, a few things remain clear.  First, the technology industry continues to accelerate at a rapid pace, particularly in places like North Carolina.  Second, low unemployment rates combined with rapid growth have made it more difficult than ever to locate talent for all kinds of positions, but especially in the technology industry.  For job seekers looking to enter or grow in the tech sector, there are few places better to live than North Carolina to accomplish this goal.  For businesses, North Carolina continues to prove itself in being a great place to grow and thrive. 

Whether you are a job seeker looking for your next role or a business looking for that next star performer, Greene Resources would love to be part of your journey.  Join our Talent Network to see our current list of openings or send us a message about your next project so we can see how we can help.

If you’d like more information on tech talent trends in North Carolina, Greene Resources has partnered with NC TECH in 2018 to share monthly reports on current hiring activity.  Check out NC TECH’s website to view the most recent reporting.

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Greene Resources was the presenting sponsor of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Women’s Professional Luncheon on January 22, which featured a panel of local experts discussing how to successfully manage and develop emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace. The panel was moderated by Wendy Gates Corbett, president of Refresher Training, LLC and included K. Melissa Kennedy, founder of 48 Innovate; Heather Lee, senior partner of Developmental Associates; and Mary Tomlinson, president of On-Purpose Partners.

Now more than ever, hiring managers in most industries are looking at individual’s emotional intelligence as part of their interview and hiring process.  Managers are interested in finding candidates who can not only perform the duties of their role, but also possesses soft skills, like effective communication, empathy, and self-awareness. 

Here are some of the insights shared by the panelists:

  • Defining emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EQ) is essentially understanding and managing emotions effectively in order to better build relationships with those around you.
  • EQ in your personal life: Take the time to reflect on your own emotions and how you manage them. When faced with an unexpected or unpleasant situation, do you react, or do you respond? Responding to a situation involves self-awareness and understanding the situation from a holistic perspective, while reaction is a gut instinct that focuses on yourself and how the situation exclusively impacts you, not those around you.  By being mindful of your own feelings as well as the feelings of others, you can learn to respond appropriately to negativity or frustration.
  • EQ as a leader: The days of “leaving your emotions at the door” are over. Effective leaders today understand that emotions are intrinsic to who you are and who your employees and customers are. Instead of focusing exclusively on data, facts, and analysis, leaders should also focus on how their customers and employees think, feel, see, and do.
  • Include EQ in your recruiting process: There are a multitude of validated assessment tools and interview questions that can help your team determine a job candidate’s EQ. Your interview process should not include many “yes/no” questions; encouraging candidates to expand on their experience will help you get a clearer picture of who they are and how they may fit in your business.  Studies indicate that IQ and cognitive abilities only account for around 30% of a new hire’s success at their company, with the remaining 70% dedicated to soft skills and their ability to work with others.  Ensure your organization’s culture prioritizes emotional intelligence and provides regular training, assessments, and workshops to ensure your team is regularly developing their EQ.
  • Practice empathy when communicating: When communicating with others, take the time to listen and ensure you fully understand the other person’s position before providing your own opinion. If you are not clear with others when communicating, the other person or people involved in the conversation are going to fill in the gaps of the conversation with their own interpretation, which is likely different from what you meant. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, communication is a skill you develop, not intrinsically tied to your personality.  Determine where there are typically gaps in your communication style and work to achieve clarity and establish an action plan at the end of your conversations.

Communicating with others is one of the first things we learn how to do in life, and can be one of the hardest things we do.  Developing self-awareness, practicing empathy, and taking the time to understand your emotions and the emotions of those around you will make you a better leader, employee, coworker, friend, partner, or parent.  At Greene Resources, our mission every day is to put people first by taking the time to understand the needs and goals of our clients, job candidates, and employees.  We would love to hear how we can help you achieve success and meet your goals.

Economic & Hiring Trends in 2018: What to Expect

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce held their annual Economic Forecast on Wednesday, January 3. This event provides a glimpse of what economic and hiring trends in 2018 we can expect to see locally, nationally, and internationally.  The Economic Forecast was hosted by David Crabtree, anchor at WRAL-TV. Presentations were given by Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, and Mark Yusko, founder, chief investment officer, and managing director of Morgan Creek Capital Management.  Mr. Vitner discussed the upcoming national and local trends to expect within the economy and Mr. Yusko provided insight on the global economy and how that will change over the next year.

Both Mr. Vitner and Mr. Yusko provided extensive data and analytics in their discussion, including several areas in which they disagreed.  Below is a brief overview of the conversation.

Mark Vitner, Managing Director, Senior Economist, Wells Fargo

View Mr. Vitner’s presentation here.

  • Economic Growth: Real GDP growth accelerated during the second and third quarters of 2017. The improved pace of growth appears to be carrying over in 2018. Growth is not only stronger but much more broadly based. Growth will cross into new regions outside of metropolitan areas, as evidenced by housing starts.
  • Tax Reform: Corporate tax cuts have finally become a reality. This will probably impact the way businesses strategize for the coming year. Expect consumer spending and business investment to grow along with increased spending on infrastructure at the local level.
  • Rates & Trends: The post-financial crisis era is over. Monetary policy is now focusing on normalizing interest rates and financial regulation. Mr. Vitner expects the Fed to raise interest rates three times in 2018.
  • North Carolina Impact: North Carolina’s economic recovery gained considerable strength during the past couple of years, although gains have largely been limited to the Triangle and Charlotte. Growth is now broadening to include most metro areas. Expect another 25,000 jobs to be added to metro areas and their outlying regions.

Mark Yusko, Founder, Chief Investment Officer, Managing Director, Morgan Creek Capital Management

View Mr. Yusko’s presentation here.

  • Economic Growth: Efforts to generate growth through tax reform, fiscal stimulus, and other methods will likely be unsuccessful due to an aging population. Efficiency will continue to decline as a result of baby boomers aging out of their most productive years (ages 45-65).
  • Tax Reform: The recent tax reform legislation will continue to perpetuate income and wealth inequality within the United States. Businesses are optimistic regarding tax cuts, but Mr. Yusko likens these tax cuts to those of the early 1980s and anticipates higher taxes within eight years. 
  • Rates & Trends: Despite positive rhetoric regarding the economy, actual GDP growth has been moderate at best, and job growth is beginning to fade. Mr. Yusko predicts the value of the dollar will fall, the increase in the deficit will lead to lower economic growth, and it seems like interest rates will not rise as much as expected. 
  • International Impact: Economic growth is most clearly seen in countries with a developing economy; China, South Korea, and India are all on the rise.

As shared by the speakers, the timeline for continued economic growth is certainly debatable.  Something on which both speakers agree, however, is the vibrancy of the Triangle. The Triangle continues to grow twice as fast as the nation.  The Triangle continues to benefit from affordability migration, a trend in which people are leaving larger, more expensive cities for more affordable, mid-tier cities.

Hiring Trends in 2018

From Greene Resources’ point of view and from a hiring standpoint, the Triangle economy fairs well for the job seeker. Indeed.com recently completed its 2018 Employer Outlook Survey to find that 90% of recruiters expect to hire at least the same amount if not more people as they did in 2017. With both the North Carolina and the national unemployment rate at close to 4%, and the Triangle unemployment rate hovering around 3.6%, businesses will be faced with fierce competition to locate and land talent for their team.

When it comes to competing for those job seekers, success will likely be determined by the employee experience.  A recent Gallup survey of job seekers showed that competitive pay and benefits are still important, however, it is also important for employees to clearly see where they fit in the company, where they can grow, and how the company will help them learn and develop.  When it comes to locating the best talent for your company, we believe connecting with Greene Resources will help ensure continued success.

Want more information on economic and hiring trends in 2018? Watch the 2018 Economic Forecast here.

3 Ways to Prepare for Hiring in 2018

Are you anticipating personnel changes in 2018? More likely than not, you will have some unexpected personnel changes or will need to do some hiring in 2018. Your company will need to understand the talent market to ensure you pay competitively, have realistic expectations when looking for new talent, and can locate talent that aligns with your business goals and objectives. Before celebrating the new year, make sure you have reviewed the following items:

hiring in 2018 - salaryEnsure Your Compensation Strategies are in Line with the Market.

When was the last time you looked at the average market value of the positions on your team? If you do not have up to date data on your team’s positions, consider asking us to run a workforce data report (for free!). These reports provide tangible data to help ensure your team’s salaries are realistic with your budgetary constraints, but also in line with the market.

hiring in 2018 - team goalsTalk to Your Team about Upcoming Goals.

According to analytics from LinkedIn, more people change jobs in the month of January than any other time during the year. If you’re hoping to prevent turnover or improve retention, have a “year in review” debrief after the holidays. In these debriefs, you can discuss personal and team goals, past accomplishments, areas for improvement, and where your company anticipates going in the coming year. Employees who understand their value and see a future at your business are more likely to be dedicated employees who are engaged in their work.

prioritize hiring in 2018Prioritize the Hiring Process.

The hiring process takes time and if rushed can result in an unsatisfactory hire. Make sure to prioritize interviews with potential new hires and take the time to follow up appropriately with candidates. If the process takes longer than you may think, Greene Resources can provide contract support staff during unexpected personnel shifts or company growth, helping your company stay on target while ensuring you find the right person for a new role.

No matter how prepared you try to be for hiring in 2018, unexpected personnel changes will occur.  Having a trusted partner who can help you navigate these changes and provide resources, guidance, and advice can help prevent additional anxiety or stress and can help you make the right decision.  Greene Resources has spent the past 18 years providing guidance to local businesses in all types of unexpected circumstances.  If you find yourself facing an unexpected situation in your company and need talent, advice, or a plan, please let us know.

Linda Alvarado Presents Ways to Break the Mold

Linda AlvaradoLinda Alvarado may be best known for being the first Latino owner of a Major League Baseball Franchise, The Colorado Rockies. Her ownership role is also significant as it marked the first time that any woman was involved in a bid for ownership of a major league baseball team.  Linda Alvarado was the featured speaker of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Professional Women’s Luncheon on Friday, November 19. 

Greene Resources has the pleasure of being the presenting sponsor of the Professional Women’s Luncheon. Our team was excited to learn from Linda Alvarado and hear her key insights on how to achieve goals while simultaneously opening doors for others to succeed.  Our team learned a lot at the Professional Women’s Luncheon and were eager to share key takeaways, which include:

Do Not Let Conventionality Confine You

Many times, the advice we are given by those who love us is advice that protects us from taking risks or making mistakes.  Your loved ones, manager, or coworkers may have preconceived notions about your career goals, skills, or abilities.  It is easy to follow the career path already laid before your feet, but do not be afraid to define yourself differently from how others have already defined you.

Attitude vs. Aptitude

When pursuing a goal that is new or challenging, obstacles will inevitably appear.  If you have an attitude that projects confidence and determination, you can use that attitude to achieve success, even if you do not have every skill you may need at the moment you need them.  In the same way, if you are highly skilled, but do not raise your hand and ask for opportunities, you will struggle to get where you want to go.  You must convince yourself of your value, skills, and abilities before you can convince anyone else.

Conquer Your Fear and Make Mistakes

The biggest mistake you can make is refusing to take the risk of making a mistake.  Get involved with organizations that share your passions, meet people who you admire, and do not be afraid to ask questions and try new things.  As Linda Alvarado says, “Get in the game and take some risks.  You’re never going to get to second base if your foot is stuck on first.”

At Greene Resources, building partnerships that result in mutual success is a critical component of what we do.  Our vision is to connect people and companies so that a job candidate can become a valued team member and a job can become a purposeful, impactful, and long-term career.  We are grateful to Linda Alvarado for sharing her journey with us and are grateful to the Chamber for hosting such phenomenal opportunities to learn and develop.

Read and Feed: Greene Gives Back Philanthropy Spotlight

The Greene Gives Back program supports two different non-profit organizations every year. Each organization makes a local impact on our community and is nominated and chosen by our internal team.  Throughout the year, Greene Resources works with these organizations to give back and learn more about the needs of our community.

One of the nonprofits Greene Resources chose to sponsor in 2017 is Read and Feed.  Read and Feed’s mission is “to give low-income elementary school children an appetite for reading.” This is done “by strengthening literacy skills and providing encouragement in a nurturing, neighborhood environment.  Using mobile classrooms, they provide meals to eliminate hunger, mentors to help children read, and books to build home libraries.”

read and feed

Read and Feed’s Impact

Read and Feed serves more than 650 students per year with over 400 active volunteers. These volunteers tutor the students, drive mobile classrooms, deliver food and supplies, sort and distribute the 33,000+ books given to children annually, and provide crucial administrative services.

Wake County teachers who have students participating in Read and Feed’s program have shared overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding Read and Feed’s impact. These teachers stated that most or all of the students in the program have improved their reading attitude, confidence, and reading level during the school year due to Read and Feed’s influence.  For students who may not have the support or means at home to excel in reading, Read and Feed helps kids get excited about reading while receiving a hot meal and mentoring.

read and feed - greene resources team The Greene Team helping Read and Feed sort through donated books for children in the program to receive in order to build their personal libraries.

How You Can Help Read and Feed

Read and Feed offers many ways to get involved.  Over the past year, Greene Resources has volunteered at their warehouse by sorting and organizing books for children’s personal libraries.  Our team will also be volunteering at their annual fundraiser, the Read and Feed Rock ‘n’ Roast, taking place this Friday, November 3.  Our employees have volunteered as board members, tutors in mobile classrooms, and meal-preparers for tutoring sessions.  Whatever your skill set, there are lots of ways you can get involved!

For more information about Read and Feed’s upcoming fundraiser, click here.

Networking Series: How to Follow Up

Whether you’re a job seeker, business professional, or simply open to something new, this is a three-part series that provides best practices for beginners learning how to network. 

If you’re new to networking, the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and starting conversations with people you do not know can be overwhelming.  Networking, however, does not have to be a chore.  If you go in with an open mind, it can lead to meeting new friends, learning about new industries or ideas, and even finding new business or career opportunities.  While networking is a cornerstone for sales and building business, networking for job seekers is equally critical.

In our previous conversations, we discussed optimal ways to prepare to attend a networking event and how to navigate a networking event once you’re there.  While preparing for and successfully navigating the networking event are two very important pieces to networking, your responsibilities as a networker do not end once you leave the event.  Following up appropriately, quickly, and purposefully is the linchpin of the entire networking experience. 

The following recommendations ensure you are following up in the best way possible:

1.    Take Notes During and Immediately After the Event

While at the networking event, everything happens in a blur.  As you move from conversation to conversation, learning new things about those you meet, it can be easy to forget the names of the people you met or what you discussed.  After finishing a conversation, take a moment to notate the name of the person, their business, and a word or two about the topics or interests that came up during the conversation.  If you obtained their business card during or after the conversation, jotting down a word or two on their business card (or on index cards or a Notes app on your phone), is an easy way to distinguish between people. 

After you have left the event, take the time to write down highlights of conversations in greater detail (while sitting in the parking lot or on the drive home if taking public transit).  If you wait until the next business day to determine with whom you would like to follow up, it is far more likely that you will have forgotten key pieces of information that could help you establish and build that relationship.

2.    Don’t Wait to Follow Up

Depending on the level of connection you made with an individual, you should follow up appropriately and in a timely fashion.  If you truly connected with someone and want to meet with them again, you could send a thoughtful, personalized email to set a date to continue your conversation. If the person went above and beyond to help introduce you to others, or mentioned a critical lead, sending a handwritten thank-you note would be a nice gesture. Make a point to follow up with them shortly after the event, within 24-48 hours.

Even if you do not see a future relationship with an individual, sending a quick email thanking them for their conversation and saying how nice it was to meet them will help you leave a positive impression with them.  While there may not be an immediate or apparent opportunity to work together now, you never know what the future may hold or who else they may have in their network.

3.    Make “Industry Friends,” Not Business Connections

It can be too easy to view networking as simply opportunities to build professional relationships to help you accomplish your professional goals – whether it’s landing a new job, getting more sales leads, or getting more recognition in your industry or community. Throughout the process, but particularly when following up, do not think of networking and following up with people as a way to convert prospects into clients, or strangers into business connections.  Networking mentor Marsha Shandur recommends viewing networking as “making industry friends,” not “business connections.”  By viewing the people you meet as potential friends first, you will be more likely to enjoy the experience and learn more about who you meet than if you immediately try to make a pitch to them or aggressively follow up about a job lead. This will also allow your follow up to become more personalized and memorable.

Networking for your first time can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you take the time to be prepared, arrive at the event willing to get out of your comfort zone, and follow up with purpose, you will not only gain confidence in your ability to network, but you will also gain friends, advocates, and strong connections to the businesses in your community.

Networking Series: How to Navigate Networking Events

Whether you’re a job seeker, business professional, or simply open to something new, this is a three-part series that provides best practices for beginners learning how to navigate networking events. 

If you’re new to networking, the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and starting conversations with people you do not know can be overwhelming.  Networking, however, does not have to be a chore.  If you go in with an open mind, it can lead to meeting new friends, learning about new industries or ideas, and even finding new business or career opportunities.  While networking is a cornerstone for sales and building business, networking for job seekers is equally critical.

In our last conversation, we discussed optimal ways to prepare to attend a networking event.  Feeling confident and prepared is half the battle, but what do you do when you arrive at the event? Here are some recommendations:

1. Arrive Early

When you walk into the event after it has started, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. Depending on the size of the event, it can feel crowded, claustrophobic, and alienating.  To prevent feeling burned out before you even begin, warm up your conversational skills by arriving at the start of the event and speaking to the individuals managing their company’s sponsorship tables.  If this is a smaller event without sponsors, speak with the individuals who are part of the hosting organization. 

Sponsors and hosts are vested in ensuring the event goes well and attendees feel welcome.  Arriving at the start of the networking time also creates a less intimidating atmosphere with a smaller crowd size.  There is also time to look over the attendee name badges and make a mental list of individuals with whom you want to engage.  All of this can help reduce anxiety and help you feel more comfortable at the event.

2. The Importance of Body Language

As the event continues, you will notice certain groups of people forming as conversations progress.  Read other people’s body language to determine when to insert yourself into a conversation.  With any large group of people, different cliques are going to emerge.  This does not mean that a certain group is uninterested in speaking with you; it may mean they all work together, are already acquainted, or had a specific topic to discuss. 

If you notice that a group of people are in a “V” formation, they have subconsciously provided an open spot in their group for someone else to join their conversation.  Similarly, if three or more people are in an open circle, that is often an invitation to join the group.

While in conversation, ensure your own body language is open as well – do not cross your arms or keep your hands in your pockets.  Engage the person in conversation, but remain open to adding others, introducing them to your new acquaintance.

3. Overcome the Feeling of Being Ignored

One pitfall of which to be aware is getting ignored while trying to join a conversation.  The best way to avoid this is to monitor body language as described previously.  In addition, avoid situations in which two people are already engaged in a discussion and coming across as if they are not open to others joining.  You can always come back around after the conversation has ended.  If you do approach a person or group and are ignored, do not let this affect the rest of your night.  Find another group more welcoming, or someone you already know, and engage in a conversation.

4. Avoid Conversational Quicksand

Try not to spend the entire evening talking to the same person.  Sometimes, however, you may feel trapped in a conversation.  To make a smooth exit without offending the other person, there are a few different strategies you could use. You can make an excuse (“I need to use the restroom/grab some food/chat with a colleague quickly/make sure I meet so-and-so”) or bring someone else into the conversation.  As you exit the conversation, mention something you discussed that meant something to you.  This demonstrates that you aren’t running off because you are bored or uninterested.  Close the conversation with, “I’ve enjoyed talking to you about your [interests, work experience, neighborhood]. I hope to see you at another event!”

Another trap that is easy to fall into is only talking to people you know. Try setting a goal of meeting three new people, and avoiding long conversations with friends until you have met your goal.

5. Facilitate Conversation: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?

Even the most skilled conversationalists will have occasional moments of awkward silence in conversation.  To keep the conversation flowing, try to learn as much as you can about those with whom you are speaking.  Focus on getting to know the other person more than getting known. People love to talk about themselves, so be a great listener. Keep the focus on the other person with open-ended questions and do not interrupt when they are responding. 

When it comes to questions, you can practice “the 5 W’s and How.”   For example, “With whom do you work?  What type of work do you do there?  Where is your office located?  When did you start working there?  Why did you choose that career/industry?  How did you hear about this event?”

As you’re listening, be sure to find common ground in what they’re saying and bring these points up. People like doing business with other people who have similar interests or passions.

By being on time, paying attention to body language, focusing more on the other person, and feeling confident, engaged and motivated, you will find success with networking.  Stay tuned for our next blog that will provide even more tips to becoming a master networker.

 

Networking Series: Getting Started

Whether you’re a job seeker, business professional, or simply open to something new, this is a three-part series that provides best practices for beginners learning how to network. 

If you’re new to networking, the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and starting conversations with people you do not know can be overwhelming.  Networking, however, does not have to be a chore.  If you go in with an open mind, it can lead to meeting new friends, learning about new industries or ideas, and even finding new business or career opportunities.  While networking is a cornerstone for sales and building business, networking for job seekers is equally critical.

1.    How to Network: Determine Your Goals

Why do you want to start networking?  Maybe you are looking to make a career change and want to build relationships with other businesses in the area.  Perhaps your business is releasing a new product or looking to grow its client base and you would like to open some new conversations. It could be you are simply new to the area and are looking to expand your professional network (or make some new friends). Whatever the reason behind your decision to begin networking, knowing what it is that you are hoping to learn and take away from the event will help your preparation for the event and will help you remain focused during the event.

2.    How to Network: Preparing for the Event

Once you have found an event that interests you, the next step is to take some time to prepare for the event.  Have a good understanding of what the event is. (Is it an after-hours meet-and-greet or a luncheon? Will there be a speaker or a topic of discussion?)  If the event is around a certain topic or featuring a certain speaker, make sure you know a little bit about the speaker or topic beforehand and write down two to three things you hope to learn.  If the event is industry-specific, see if you recognize or know anyone from any of the companies sponsoring the event.

The day of the event, ensure you have enough business cards on hand to distribute during the event.  If you’re not currently working, having a personal business card with your information on it will make it much easier for potential new connections to remember you after the event.

Taking an extra few minutes to learn about the people attending, the event itself, and any other relevant organizations will help you feel more confident and at ease when the moment comes.

3.    How to Network: Developing the Perfect Pitch

The easiest way to fight nerves before attending a networking event is to have a clear idea of what you plan to share about yourself before you go.  When a business is trying to sell a product, it creates an “elevator pitch” about the product that succinctly and clearly describes the product in a short period of time. 

When you’re meeting new people, you should have a similar pitch developed that succinctly and clearly describes a) who you are, b) what you do, c) what that means for the average person, and d) how you can help them. Taking the time to determine what your goals are for attending the event will also help you feel more prepared to network. Is there a certain company, person, or industry with whom you would like to become more familiar?  Keep those goals in mind, but also be open to meeting all kinds of different people – you never know how a seemingly random connection or conversation may develop in the long run.

When faced with something new, feeling prepared and confident is half the battle.  Whether it is a networking event, job interview, or business presentation, taking the time to determine your goals, do your research, and practice your pitch will help you feel more prepared, confident, and ready to go.  We’ll be providing more tips on effective networking in our next blog!

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