Networking

Overview

There are many ways that people find their next job opportunity, most people spend most of their time on-line hunting down opportunities and responding directly to postings. The business of posting and brokering job opportunities has exploded, everybody seems to be on it. There are many firms that are now household names including: Indeed, Ladders, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and oldies but goodies such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder in this heavily advertised and promoted field of services. For the “silver collar” or Boomers, many recall the good old days of mailing out resumes and looking in the Sunday newspaper for postings. Ha! Times change. Yet, one thing that has not is the power and sense of control over your job search results that are possible from networking. Most people do find or create their next opportunity through people they already know, or a friend of a friend.

It is startling to observe how most job search are following unfounded beliefs and ineffective understanding of how to network and a “way it is” about job search and networking that is riddled with myths and misperceptions. The “way it is” for so many job seekers is unfortunately filled with a perspectives common to human resources, recruiters, outplacement firms and even most career coaches. For example, the “way it is” for networking is that you go to networking groups, and what most networking groups do is promote “the way it is.” Networking groups have many caring and well intentioned volunteers, yet they are not fully aware of what works and what doesn’t work, and they  promote what is often the very practices that limit and self-sabotage effective and efficient networking.

 

What Works

There are two fundamental principles that drive the science of highly effective and efficient networking. The first is the power of a warm referral. In essence, “a friend of yours is a friend of mine.” The concept is also referred to as the power of weak ties. A well known friend, neighbor, colleague is a strong tie, yet their good friends, acquaintances, etc. although connected, are not as strong a tie to you, they can be referred to as “weak ties.” When someone receives a call from a friend with a heads up that one of their friends will be reaching out, there is a world of a difference in the receptivity to taking a call or responding to an email. Asking for and garnering warm referrals from strong ties to weak ties is a key principle that you want to bring to your networking approach. The other principle that is at play is known as the 6-degrees of separation.” The theory has been “scientifically” explored and validated by Columbia University, tested as the topic of an ABC Dateline simulation, and validated by innumerable successful job seekers. Reach out to people you know, they will know people who ultimately will connect you to your next employer.

 

The Conversations, Structure, and Process of Intentional Networking

Before launching a networking campaign, you will need to prepare for it, and that is not an overnight process and may take several days of preparation. The preparation includes:

  • Preparing for the conversations you will have when you connect with your network.
  • Creating and utilizing a structure for managing your networking campaign.
  • Following a replicable defined process for networking.

 

Join our chapter meetings to learn and practice the conversations of intentional networking, and more details on the structure and process. You will quickly learn why elevator pitches should be replaced with an authentic statement of what you are exploring. You will learn to be precise and confident in what and how you ask for help. If you have completed research for target organizations, then an appropriate request, for example, would include “who do you know that works at (or might work at)  company ABC?” Then follow-it up with a request for a referral to that person.

The structure you need to support your networking campaign includes networking cards, a calendar, a way of tracking your contacts, a list of target organizations. A discipline of scheduling networking calls/meetings, researching organizations, follow up on calls, and sending thank you notes following your calls.

The process for networking is simple. Reach out to about a dozen people you know and set up a networking conversation with each of them. Follow the conversations of intentional networking, garner warm referrals. Express your gratitude to your network, send a thank you note, and then reach out to your new referrals and repeat the process. This process continues as you connect with key decision makers in your target organizations. The process is such that people you reach out to will know other people who you may enjoy a conversation, so that your target list is dynamic and changes weekly.

Chances are that if you attend a ‘networking group” meeting you will learn to “sell yourself” or create a personal brand for yourself and fold that into your elevator pitch. You will learn to build a one-page hybrid resume – target list and to take that to your networking groups. And, sadly, while well intentioned, will more often than not work against your goal of ultimately connecting to key decision makers for the opportunity that you want. Our JP Chapter volunteers can explain to you the many paradoxes which remain hidden from those buying into the commonly held “way it is.” Yes, you will want to have a LinkedIn profile and be adept at utilizing LinkedIn as a research tool. Yes, you want to have an effective resume, however, through most of the job search process it will do more harm than good for most people. Join our chapter meetings and learn the details and the big picture of how to take on an effective and efficient job search and how networking is a cornerstone to your success.

Good luck,

Tom Rhoads   –   https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasrhoads/