Tag: How to Network

Is Your Networking Approach Missing These 3 “Must Haves”?

Networking is a hot topic. It’s common to hear that the majority of jobs are won through some form of networking, so if you plan on getting another job in your lifetime, then learning about networking is a wise choice!

If you are wondering where in the world to start learning how to network, if you are apprehensive to network because it’s new to you, or if you have had a negative networking experience in the past, here are three simple but powerful must-haves to quickly get started.

Must Have #1: Focus on Them

When you are talking with someone, you are meeting for the FIRST time. You must keep your focus on them. In other words, this is not the time to introduce what you need, but rather, ask a few questions about them.

If you are one of those professionals who really get stage fright before a networking opportunity such as a mixer, then a great tip for you is to write down 5 questions you feel comfortable asking. This will boost your confidence and help you avoid that feeling of being tongue tied.

Must Have #2: Reciprocate

Networking is more about what you can do for someone else then what they can do for you. In other words, if you put the focus on helping others, not only does it take the pressure off of you, but it creates a positive exchange between you and your networking contact. Examples include sending a key decision maker of a company you want to work for a positive article about their company, passing on a valuable bit of mentoring to a junior executive, or referring one of your top vendors to another company. The more you get in the habit of helping others in these small ways, the more you will see your network extending their help to you exponentially.

Must Have #3: Don’t Play the End Result

Maybe you are wondering with all this gifting you are doing just when you are going to get to network?! That’s understandable. The answer is, you definitely will have multiple opportunities to network in order to take action towards your goals.

When you approach your network for information, it’s important to be polite, gracious and clear about what you want. But don’t play the end result. That means when you follow up with a key decision maker after sending in your resume, connect with an executive to ask for a short mentoring meeting, or query your friends about who they might know in your industry of interest, it’s critical that your only expectation at that moment is the opportunity to pose the question.

Your success rides more on how many people you network with and how you ask someone for something than the actual response you get. Some contacts will be able to help you and some won’t. Knowing this, you can relax and keep your expectations in check. The person on the receiving end will certainly pick up on this intuitively and respond in kind.

Networking Secrets To Success

Here are a few tips that are really important for you to integrate into your networking to heighten your success:

1.    When you are networking you are networking, not job searching. This is the most important piece of information I have for you. Networking and job searching are two different activities! You must embrace that and accept that. You are networking for information, mentoring, and to ask for additional networking contacts. If you do it right, not only will you get all these things – which can and will help you tremendously in your career search – but you will probably get “solicited” by potential employers who are interested in you and will ask for your resume. It is always the stronger position to be pursued.

2. In order to network correctly you must already have a clear focus of direction. The spirit in which so many people approach networking is “help!!!” – which neither party enjoys. When you network, do you ask your contact things like, “Is your company hiring?” or “Do you know of any companies that are hiring?” If you do, you are severely limiting that contact’s ability to help you and also putting pressure on that person, which is one of the main reasons why people hate to network. However, if you have an industry and position in mind, you can share THAT with your contact. First of all, it makes you look like you have your act together, and second, it opens up a much broader conversation that does not involve putting pressure on the person, and instead focuses on asking them for their advice, mentoring and opinions. People are generally more comfortable with these conversations and find it flattering that you would ask for their mentoring and advice.

3. When networking, say something like: “I have stepped back and looked at my career for the past 6 months and I have determined a few industries I believe would be a good fit for me. They are ______, and ______. Do you know anyone in those industries I could talk with for a few minutes to get some mentoring as I continue to research these industries?”

4.    Remember that when you seek mentoring, that is all you are seeking – mentoring, information and helpful advice. If they know of any jobs, growing companies or they are hiring themselves, let THEM offer this information to YOU – not the other way around! This allows them the satisfaction of helping you on their terms and retains your dignity and increases your desirability.

5.    When you are networking never, ever, ever bring your resume with you. If they ask for your resume and you have one during your networking meeting, you will look as disingenuous as you will feel. Tell them you would be happy to send it to them by hard mail or email.

If you want more information on how to network, click here to see my e-book series.

Professional Networking Secrets: “Here is Your Insult . . . Would You Like a Slap in the Face with That?”

I truly understand that in today’s world of instant information it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and maybe a little callous. Kind of like giving a hard time to telemarketers that call our homes around dinner time. It is easy to forget it is a human being just trying to make a living on the other end of the line. Perhaps someone’s son or daughter trying to pay their way through college.

A long time ago I decided I was going to do everything I could to be NICE—REALLY nice, to everyone I spoke with—no matter what the circumstances and whether I knew them or not.

Because in my career, I have been on the other end of the stick many times.

And something that just happened to me this morning REMINDED me of my commitment and how important it is for us all to be gracious when we network.

But first let’s go waaayyy back to my days as an executive recruiter. As a job seeker, you will bend over backward to have a good conversation with a recruiter right? Well as a recruiter who continuously had to cold call and have conversations with employed executives—sometimes my call would elicit hostility. Executives would tell me “DON’T CALL ME AGAIN!” or would grill me “HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER?!” or, “I AM NOT INTERESTED IN ANY OF YOUR JOBS!!”

It always amazed me. And often a year or two later many of those executives would call me for help because they found themselves in a job search. You can imagine how “eager” I was to help place them with one of my beloved client companies.

Which leads me to this morning’s incident. Interestingly, a recruiter had requested to connect with me on LinkedIn—which I accepted. I always send follow up email to my new connections to thank them for reaching out to connect and I invite them to sign up for my free newsletter. This particular recruiter emailed me back and said “TAKE ME OFF YOUR LIST IMMEDIATELY!” I decided to personally email her back and explain she was a connection, and I had simply invited her to sign up for my e-zine with a link.

Here is what my new LinkedIn connection wrote back: “LET ME REPHRASE: DON’T SEND ME ANY MORE EMAILS!!”

I promptly removed this recruiter from my LinkedIn connections.

This is a PERFECT example of what we should never, ever do. As we network, we simply can’t afford to be rude or mean. So . . . here are some networking tips I have found very useful that I would like to share with you:

  1. In your career, strive to be nice to EVERYBODY no matter their station or basis of relationship. You just never know when the tables may turn and who wants to spread bad energy around?
  2. If you must say NO to somebody, do so as graciously and professionally as possible.
  3. If someone or something around you is negative, cut off communication, if possible. Leaders and professionals who are serious about their careers protect their inner circle and filter the information they “let in.”
  4. When networking, think: “How can I help?” If you will always lead with thinking about the other person, you will be showing them honor and respect and they will repay you naturally in kind. Long term, this is the true core of networking. It doesn’t matter if your connection is in person, on LinkedIn, Facebook, or phone . . . strive for consistency in all you do.
  5. If someone you are talking to is rude or negative—do not get defensive. This includes all the things that can potentially happen to you in a job search such as someone promising they will call you, or invite you back for an interview, but never do.
  6. Find a mentor who holds a high visibility position—one whose personality you admire—and then emulate them. If you are lucky enough to know several executive mentors, you will start to see a pattern. Leaders/Mentors generally have a certain likeability . . . a charisma, if you will, for various reasons—some are attractive because they are fair and do the right thing, others because they want to foster the potential in you, and still others because they are warm and kind.
  7. Whomever you are speaking to, try to find a positive thing about that person that you can complement him or her on. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to someone new, I LOVE figuring out what that one thing is that I can compliment them on. Sometimes it is their photo, other times it is something about their voice, their personality, or their career. This becomes a good habit and you will find yourself focusing on the positive more versus the negative in your daily dealings with others.
  8. If you make a practice of focusing on and helping others, at some point you may feel used or that you have not gotten back what you have put in. This goes with the territory. Don’t let it deter you from your course to develop a good reputation, overall virtue, and will ultimately make you a better person.

I feel fortunate that I have been humbled by the above types of experiences over the years because it gives me an excuse to take a bad thing and turn it around to reflect something positive. I hope you can take one thing from the list above and share the love.

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