One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
How much do you really know about navigating networking events? This little quiz is a fun way to brush up on your schmoozing skills without having to balance a drink or hail a cab.
The answers are at the bottom of the quiz. Good Luck!! Caution, there are some trick questions, and some questions have more than one right answer, but there is always one answer that is better than the others.
Warning: If you peek at the answers in advance, you will be struck with a curse that will make your hair fall out. :)
1. When meeting someone at a networking function, you should begin the conversation with:
A. casual conversation about the weather, sports, movies, pets or common interests.
B. a brief background on your career and the type of new position you are seeking.
C. questions about his/her career or why he/she is attending the function.
2. If you are having a difficult time getting a conversation started or if you are uncomfortable with networking, you should:
A. wait for someone to approach you to begin a conversation.
B. admit that sometimes these functions are awkward for you and ask the person for tips on how he/she goes about getting to know someone.
C. try meeting people around the food table and talk about how great the caviar tastes.
3. The best conversationalists are people who can:
A. ask other people interesting questions.
B. talk comfortably on a wide range of topics.
C. always pick up the conversation when others run out of things to say.
4. The best way to show respect for what someone else is saying is to:
A. compliment him/her on what he/she has said.
B. ask others to join your conversation to hear what he/she is saying.
C. be a good listener, provide responsive gestures and ask good follow-up questions.
5. When preparing for a networking function, you should:
A. keep up to date on current events, world affairs, emerging business trends and state-of-the-art management or leadership concepts.
B. ask the host in advance for a list of the guests and their backgrounds.
C. bring a small note pad and pen to write down contact information or schedule meetings.
6. After meeting someone, if you feel there is no potential for him/her to help you in your job search, you should:
A. politely excuse yourself and continue to meet other people.
B. not be too quick to judge.
C. continue to talk to him/her but try to get others to join in your conversation so that you can meet new people.
7. After you have established a common interest and believe you would like to spend more time talking to this individual, you should:
A. suggest he/she excuse himself from the function and go to a restaurant or other room where you can talk confidentially about your career or possible job opportunities.
B. set an appointment to meet with him/her at a later date.
C. ask for his/her business card and permission to call in a few days perhaps to find a time when you could meet.
8. If you are networking and someone latches on to you and follows you everywhere, you should:
A. politely involve him/her in all of your conversations.
B. tell him/her to get lost.
C. excuse yourself from him/her, indicating that you have to meet with someone or perhaps visit the restroom.
Now let's find out how you scored!
1. A. While C is very appropriate after you have started a good conversation, it is considered rude immediately to ask about a person's career. Begin your conversation with casual talk.
2. B. If you are uncomfortable with networking, admitting that to the person you are talking to is almost always a great icebreaker. People will go out of their way to help to you. They will carry the conversation and frequently introduce you to others to make you feel welcome.
3. A. Surprisingly, some of the best conversationalists do the least amount of talking. While B and C are also characteristics of good conversationalists, being able to draw others into the conversation is an extraordinary skill.
4. C. Being inattentive is the most common characteristic exhibited by people at networking functions. Always display good eye contact with verbal and body-language response. Ask good follow-up questions.
5. A. If you want to carry on good conversations, then you must stay contemporary on a variety of subjects. Read, read, read. Read on a wide variety of topics, including current events, business trends, social issues, sports and the arts. I heard (and believe) that if you read three books on any subject, you will know more than 95 percent of the rest of the world on that subject. By reading about many topics, you will always be able to engage people in great conversations.
6. B. This is the most frequently missed question. Most people view networking as "What can I get from this person?" which is the wrong way to view networking. Rather, you should view networking as "How can I benefit or help this person?" If you try to judge the contact quickly from a personal perspective, you have made a terrible mistake. The goal of networking should be to meet interesting people, help them whenever possible, learn from them, perhaps make a contact that is mutually beneficial or maybe just simply make a new friend. Never set your expectations too high.
7. C. Don't be too aggressive in trying to make that contact. A networking function is more of a social event than pure business. Meet lots of people by spending a few minutes with each. Collect lots of business cards, and then a few days after the event make contacts with people where it would be mutually beneficial to build a business relationship.
8. C. It is easy to get stuck with someone who follows you around everywhere you go. At some point, find a reason to excuse yourself or perhaps introduce him/her to someone and then excuse yourself from their conversation. Don't let another person dominate your time at a networking function.
How did you do?
Seven or more correct:
You will be the hit of the party! Guaranteed you will make some positive contacts, and people will make an effort to get to know you.
With a little effort, you can move to the next level. Practice makes perfect, so get out and network every chance you get.