The goal is of networking is NOT to find a job – it is to put yourself in a position where you can get lucky and a job can find you. So with each person you meet, you need to add to your knowledge and awareness of the “scene” and also find one or two other persons to meet.
Therefore, you need to come to networking with the right set of questions and answers at your fingertips. The questions are overtly designed to get you the right information and connections to continue your quest, and subtly to show you as the kind of curious and involved person that your contact would love to hire if he/she had a job.
But before we cover your preparation for these questions, there is one key factor that must be established: ATTITUDE. Your attitude and approach to networking has to be relentlessly positive and even have a touch of BS where you don’t actually feel so positive. You need to avoid the trap of aimlessness, unsureness, wishy-washy-ness that is probably what most recent college graduates are feeling.
This is especially hard because many of the folks with whom you will be meeting will want to provide you sympathy and support for the difficult task you are undertaking, particularly in this economic climate.
The best way to accomplish this “attitude adjustment” is to practice it like it was a role in a play, until that character becomes you and you can switch her on and off. This may sound weird, but there is no room for timidity or uncertainty in the process. That is not to say that you can’t have real questions that the “target” can answer – they don’t expect you to be as focused as they are, and they love being helpful. But you can’t appear to be wasting their time by requiring them to help you find your focus. Your focus will appear on its own as this process unfolds.