Ross Perot once said, “Business is a cobweb of human relationships”. I like to think our relationships are our doorway to opportunities. If we ignore the importance of relationships in our quest for a new job opportunity we sadly miss the boat. And, when most people think about networking to find a job they rank it right up there with cold calling. We need to change our mindset to become effective networkers.
How to put a positive spin on networking:
1. Networking is nothing new. First, most of us have been networking most of our adult lives but not necessarily in the context of a job search. Think about the last time you bought a car. Didn’t you spend time researching your purchase ahead of time? In addition to the normal internet research, I bet you talked to friends, relatives and co-workers about the cars you were considering, right? You already know how to network. Now you just have to do it in a slightly different context…researching your next job.
2. Get Curious. When you are curious about learning something new, you not only do a better job researching your target, you also sound less needy than someone asking for a job. And we all know networking is not about asking for a job; it is about asking for information. Try asking your network contact how they got into their current career field. By asking open ended questions you put the other person in the position of being an advisor; someone who can shed light on a topic or career field you are interested in learning more about. This takes the pressure off of you and focuses it on the other person.
3. Others want to help. Many others have been in your shoes and want to help. Knowing that, make it easy for them by being specific about what it is you want to know. For instance, maybe you need to find out if an MBA is really necessary to enter the field of internet marketing. Have an agenda prepared ahead of time to make it easy for others to help you. If you don’t know what you want, they won’t be able to help you.
4. Networking is about giving back too. Just because you are in between jobs does not mean you don’t have anything to give back. It does not mean you all of a sudden lose 15 years of expertise and knowledge gained from an advanced degree. The person you network with may very well benefit from learning about the database package you implemented at your last company because they are thinking of purchasing the same one for their company! See how easy this can be?
Networking can be an enjoyable experience if you take a simple approach. Remember what Harvey Mackay, author of ‘Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty’, said about networking. “In a world where information, jobs and even whole companies are transient, only your network is permanent. Safeguard it.” Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.