What I Learned About Networking
Have you met many people who claim to really ‘love networking?” I cannot say that I have, especially when individuals are in a job search mode. When I first began my search, I thought networking was sending my resume to my colleagues letting them know I was looking for a job and if they heard of one, to contact me. I quickly discovered that networking is NOT asking for a job. Most people do not have jobs nor know of them, but they always have information, advice and contacts to provide. So, what I really learned was; “Networking is the proactive process of building genuine relationships with people you know who can connect you to people they know who can provide you with information, advice and more contacts that will help you make good career and business decisions. Remember that building relationships is not just getting what you need, but creating a mutual benefit to keep the relationship alive.” Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friend and Influence People” is still one of the best books ever written on relationship building. I tried to follow many of his principles, which set the stage for my networking.
Preparing to network when in job search mode requires the right mindset, which is the ongoing nurturing of a positive attitude. I would need to meet with many people and knowing how they could help me and how I could help them as well. Knowing what information, advice or contacts did I need that would help me in my search was essential before I began. I started by. crafting and mastering my 30 second pitch. Your pitch should clearly convey who you are, what you are good at, whom you most recently worked for and what it is you are interested in doing in your next role. Master the delivery of your pitch so that someone not familiar with your profession understands what you do as easily as someone who is in your line of work. Refine your pitch and don’t be shy about telling everyone you meet. You never know who knows who. The key to the right mindset when delivering your pitch is … You are not looking for a job with them, but you are interested in gaining information, advice and additional contacts. I will provide more insight into this later. Lastly, as you prepare to enhance your networking game, personalized business cards are nice to have and a Networking Profile sheet is a must! Your networking profile is intended to set you up for good networking conversations and should NOT look like or smell like a resume. Remember you are not looking for a job from the person you are meeting, but you are in the job market looking for help. Now you are ready to set up live networking meetings.
The majority of people you meet with want to help you, but knowing how they can help is important. You want to put them at ease with no expectations that that they have a job, so having the right mindset going into the meeting is important. I know this sounds counter intuitive because you are looking for a job, but you don’t ask for a job. It took me some time to ‘get it’, but once I did, my mindset of networking enhanced the relationships I was building, Big Time!
Consider this, if your contact is not positioned to help you land a job, they will not feel like they can help you. On the other hand, if you are seeking advice, information and additional contacts most people will certainly be able to help you. Gaining advice on how to target your search, whom to target and insight into how your skills may be transferable will surely aid in your search. Gaining information about target companies, the culture of those companies and what makes people successful in those companies is indeed valuable information. Lastly, a goal of each meeting is to leave with additional contacts that you can follow up with to repeat this process. Being disciplined about repeating this process will increase the odds of you finding that ideal job, “ …Remember that building relationships is not just getting what you need, but creating a mutual benefit to keep the relationship alive.” As such, be sure to ask the people you are meeting, “is there anything I can do for you?” Make sure you keep in touch and periodically let them know how your searching is progressing.
Networking takes work. You can master this work with the right mindset. Believe in your 30 second pitch and be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. Take the time to get prepared and develop tools that support your networking efforts. Your most effective tool is your mind. Create the mindset that communicates optimism about your future and invites others to participate in creating your future by sharing for advice, information and contacts that will ultimately get you closer to your goal … landing that job that is right for you!