20 Minute Networking Meeting


A man wearing a blue patterned shirt sitting at a wooden table with an open laptop in front of him. He is in a virtual meeting with a woman on the laptop screen.
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Networking sometimes gets a bad rap due to misconceptions and misunderstandings. People might be hesitant to meet because they think to themselves, “There goes another hour of my time.” That is why the 20 minute networking meeting works so well. It is brief and to the point. Consider using this model to enhance your networking skills. Remember: they are giving you the gift of time.


Three Objectives for a Networking Meeting

  1. Gather new information

  2. Listen, question, absorb, and write down what is said to you

  3. Add new contacts to your list

  4. Get additional names of others in the industry or role you are exploring

  5. Identify people in your list of target companies (if you don’t have a list—make one!)

  6. Write down anyone who can give you advice and information to help with your job search

  7. Gain an advocate

  8. Every job seeker needs an advocate, which is someone willing to take a positive action on your behalf in the following ways:

  9. Forwarding your resume

  10. Introducing you to someone

  11. Suggesting you for a project

  12. Recommending you to someone who is hiring

General Strategy for Networking

When meeting with an individual, you are there to learn and observe two things:

  1. Learn about their skills and abilities related to what they do for a living

  2. Observe how they act in a professional setting

Your Strategy for Networking

Examine how you ‘show up’ to a meeting. Is your behavior exuding your most professional presence?

Here is how you want to come across in each meeting:

  • You are positive (upbeat tone, body language, overall positivity)

  • You are strategic (you know why you are there—develop an agenda)

  • You are well organized (by managing the meeting well, keeping a close tab on topics and time)

  • You are gracious (appreciative and grateful for the time that is spent with you; say thank you!)

  • You follow through (prompt follow up, meaningful ongoing interactions)


5 Step Cheat Sheet for Your 20 Minute Networking Meeting


Step 1

2-3 minutes: First impression—arrive, express gratitude, highlight connections (if you have them), and communicate a brief overview of what you’d like to talk about (your agenda)


Step 2

1-2 minutes: Overview—elevator pitch (what are you doing now, what are you interested in and what are thinking about for your future)


Step 3

12-15 minutes: Discussion—ask 3-5 key questions (these should either be memorized or written out); it’s ok to take notes during this conversation! Do not think you can track all of the information in your head or on your phone


Step 4

2 minutes: Ending—ask, “Is there anything I can help you with?” (Remember: networking is about

give and take)


Step 5

Follow up—after the meeting, write a thank you note! Keep your contact apprised of your job search, or stay in contact with them about points of interest periodically (monthly, quarterly)


Important Tips to Remember and Practice

  • People will want to hire you if they know you exist!

  • Be visible in a hidden job market where 80% of the opportunities exist

  • Always use an agenda; don’t be afraid of showing how you can lead a meeting

  • Don’t wait for your contact to start the discussion; you called the meeting and it is your responsibility you manage it

  • Don’t lead with your resume; that turns the meeting into a job interview

  • NEVER ask for information you could find on your own or should already know

  • Use LinkedIn to research the person you are meeting with; this helps you develop questions that are specific to the individual and the field you are exploring

  • Pay attention to the time; you have asked for 20 minutes

  • Remember President John F. Kennedy’s famous words: Don’t think of what your network can do for you, what can you do for your network?

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