The Networking Mindset: Having a Clear Ask

By Jessica Chan, Senior Student Recruitment Officer, CPABC

In an era of social media and numbers, it is easy to get caught up on collecting LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to connect people and keep an address book of connections, but the purposing of networking is about creating meaningful and lasting relationships. A LinkedIn connection is not useful if your newly connected contact does not remember who you are the next day.

In the last “The Networking Mindset: It starts with confidence”, I had discussed how you can boost your confidence by starting strong, monitoring your actions and imagining success. In this post, we are going to review the content of your conversations and what your objective should be.

Networking is about quality, not quantity. Undoubtedly, attending networking events takes time to commute and be present. Considering your opportunity costs in attending the event and your returns on investments, there are no excuses as to why you are not fully prepared and present at each networking event.

Step 1: Identify your mission

Just like you are tasked with a project, the first step is to do your homework and find out who is in the room. Networking events often provides a list of employers or delegates. If it doesn’t, ask the event host. Research where you want to invest your time – who you want to meet? What do you want to talk about with this person? Research this person on LinkedIn, find out where they work and try to seek out commonalities for opening questions or small talk. Then when you are at the event, make it your mission to find this person, introduce yourself and deliver.

Step 2: Reach for your objective

The second step is to know your objective. Time passes by very quickly at networking events, especially when you connect well with the other person. It is great to open conversations and ease tension with questions about travel, weather and pets – but what is your ask? What is it that you are hoping to gain from this conversation or connection? Once you have found your commonalities and portrayed your personality, make sure the conversation has an outcome. If your goal was to find employment, ensure you have opened the door for opportunities. If your goal was to gain career advice, ensure you have articulated your background well. Remember, show your outgoing personality first, then remember why you came to this networking event.

Step 3: Make it sustainable

Lastly, the key with networking is not about the number of LinkedIn connections you have gained at the end of the night, it is about how many objectives you have met. You want to make a lasting and memorable impression through your conversations and interactions. Often, this isn’t achieved in one step. You may have heard many times that you should request a new connection on LinkedIn with a short message to remind the person of who you are. More importantly, this is also a reminder of what great time they had with you and to pave the way for some type of follow-up and/or post-event informational interview.

Relationships are earned. It requires time, dedication and certainly more than just a few quick minutes of interaction at a networking event. So remember to ensure your conversation plants a seed for your ask to be answered.

Stay tuned for other parts of The Networking Mindset! 

Want to practice your networking skills? Attend CPABC’s Connect Networking Night where university and college students have the opportunity to network with CPA professionals and employers from a variety of industries across the lower mainland. Event details and registration here