Networking is the center of The Interview Doctor approach to finding a new job. It is by far the best source of a new job.
According to a poll of nearly 600 U.S. and Canadian employees conducted by Right Management, 50% of people surveyed think they will find their next position through networking. “These findings track well with actual outcomes,” said Monika Morrow, Senior Vice President of Career Management at right Management. 
It is easy to say. We recommend networking all the time but many clients find it more difficult to manage. They find it difficult to reach out. They are not comfortable with what to say and how to act while networking, as if networking were something unusual.
Actually networking is a strategic extension of talking to people. With networking your conversation has a purpose. LinkedIn is great to expand your contacts. But to make a real connection you need to get out of the house and meet people in person.
An interesting article gives great tips on how to use business lunches to make strategic connections moving you further towards your goal, “5 Reasons to Schedule More Business Lunches” by Kevin Daum in Inc. Magazine. We think these reasons apply just as well to networking by scheduling coffee.
Here are the five reasons to suggest meeting for lunch or coffee in a place you choose:
- You will control the environment. You want to meet people on neutral territory like a coffee shop or a restaurant. Pick a location that is quiet so you can talk and hear each other. I love the suggestion to pre-arrange with the wait staff in a restaurant to take special care of you and your guest. This increases your power.
- Going to a neutral place puts you on equal footing with the person you are meeting. Most people in a job searching feel less powerful anyway. Reduce the tension by going to a restaurant or coffee shop where you are both equal and you will not be interrupted.
- Your contact will be captive. Lunch usually lasts about an hour. Coffee can last for 30 minutes. On neutral territory like a restaurant or coffee shop you will have their undivided attention for the entire time. I love the suggestion to leave your laptop at home. If you want to share information, bring a paper copy. Talk to the person to connect socially. You want to give them a chance to like you.
- You will create a shared experience. The point of networking at lunch or over coffee is to make your contact feel comfortable so you can talk and make a connection. Have a point for the meeting and make your point with humor and openness. You want them to remember you.
- Do them a favor. Pick up the check. If money is an issue, go for coffee instead of lunch. They will owe you. I love the suggestion to give your credit card to the waiter privately before lunch so there is no question that you will pick up the check.
Increase your networking by meeting contacts in person in a neutral place, picking up the check, and letting them see you as a person so you can connect on a personal, social basis.