Networking 101 for new preservationists
As we continue career month here at the Heritage Consulting Inc. Blog, we are focusing this week on networking 101 for new preservationists. We will make some remarks about collecting contacts, organizing information, using your contacts and doing informational interviews. Let us know if you want more suggestions about networking in the comments section below.
- Start your contact database from your first day in graduate school or working in the field. Collect business cards, and start your database.
- Everyone in an organization might be helpful to you, not just the top dog. So even the administrative assistant or a temporary worker might be a good contact for the future. Get everyone’s card.
- Make sure you have a card too, even if you are just starting out. Use Vista print or other quick printer to make simple business cards with your name, address, phone number, email, twitter handle or Facebook profile.
- Use your volunteer experiences for networking purposes too. Many people start in the preservation field as a volunteer. Use your volunteer contacts with board members, staff members and others and collect their business cards too. Your volunteer colleagues might also be helpful to give you entree or learn about a position opening.
- Develop a database of your contacts, using access, excel or other program that is simple for you to use. If you do not have a simple system then you will not use it. Outlook or other contact management system is useful. If you are familiar with Access, use that. If not just, use Excel or Outlook. Regardless, use something to collect cards and make sure you get the email address too. Make your record complete. You might want to start assigning some kind of code to people as you enter them, so that you can sort readily. Create a system that works for you.
- Write a brief note on the front or back of the person’s business card when you meet the person “reception for Joe” and the date. Make sure you put that information in your data base/Outlook file, a few years from now you will not remember where you met so and so.
- Enter data regularly. Do not wait until the stack of cards is 50 high before you enter the data. Enter a few at a time.
Using your contacts
- Be helpful always. Some news item may have crossed your desk that your contact might find interesting. If so, send it along. In networking, it is all about being helpful to others. The best networkers are always giving information, advice, referrals, suggestions. Even to the most successful or high-powered.
- Ask your contacts for names of other contacts so that you can get good advice from other people. Ask, “Is there someone else you know that might be helpful for me to know within your network for an informational interview?”
- Most people will be flattered if you ask for an informational interview. Ask for about 20 minutes of their time for an informational interview and come prepared with a few questions and a copy of your resume and a writing sample or two. Do not overstay your time; thank them profusely for their time and assistance.
- Unless you know the person well, do not ask them to send your resume around—if they offer to do that great, but do not ask them. Rather ask them for more leads so you can do interviews that are more informational. Make sure you get the spelling right for any lead and the name of their company. Ask for a number or email address.
- Send a brief thank you note (better) or email (ok) to your informational interviewee right after your meeting. Reiterate that you would be interested in knowing about any opportunities that might cross their desk that would suit your skills.
Learn how to use LinkedIn to its full potential
- Create your LinkedIn profile with care. It is your best online resume. Add your experience even if it does not really relevant to the field yet. Add your clubs and extra-curricular organizations, languages spoken, and software programs you know well. Include a recent head shot.
- Connect with people on LinkedIn that you have met, but do not send generic invitation notes—personalize each note. Since you are a student you will need to remind the person how you met, so they would be interested enough to accept your invitation to connect. Download your Outlook, Yahoo or Gmail account contact data base and send out invitations to connect from that, too, but use some discretion. Make sure you have me the person or include in your invitation note why connecting would be useful.
This blog post is only scratches the surface on this topic. Hope it was helpful. Please add more suggestions for other topics to explore in the comments section below.