If I could come up with a new word for networking, I’m sure I’d be rich … or famous… or both. I say that because whenever I start talking about how important it is for candidates to use their network during their job search, I can see them wince at the very thought of it.

But networking IS a critical part of every job transition. If you think about it, every move you make in your career is because of a conversation that got the ball rolling for a new opportunity to come your way.

Networking, or creating conversation, is really about making a connection with someone because you have a mutual interest. You typically find out about that mutual interest because one or both of you asked a question that led you down a path of discovery. Seems simple, right?

We have conversations every day when we aren’t thinking about how they can help us meet our goals. But creating that dialog with a specific goal can be a little intimidating if your preference is to be a little more introverted. So here are three quick tips for starting a conversation that could help you in your next career move.

  1. Allow for natural curiosity: The gift of wanting to know more is one of the greatest parts of being a conversationalist. It’s how you get to know someone. People generally like to talk about themselves and their interests, so ask good questions and get to know the person with whom you’re networking. In my experience, people who feel like you were interested in them, are often more interested in you – and more likely to want to help you.
  2. Be generous – but genuine: You know the saying that it is better to give than to receive. If you are a good resource to others, then you are more likely to receive help when you need it. Look for opportunities to connect people in your network and point them to information that can make their lives better. But be genuine in your motives – no one likes to feel like they “owe” you.
  3. Be open to possibilities: Every person you meet has the potential to be someone who could introduce you to that next great opportunity. We frequently assume someone isn’t able (or won’t want) to help us. While I wouldn’t recommend jumping into every conversation asking for something before you have even established a rapport, I do encourage you to treat every conversation as though the person you are speaking with is someone who could be a great connection for years to come.