You don’t like to Network

This is part 4 of the 16 post series

It’s hard to do, especially if you go at it the wrong way. Heck, I don’t like networking the way most people do it myself and I’m a Networking Strategist.

If I could find a new word that we could use instead of Networking, I’d never use this word ever again. But, it’s such a long standing word and not likely to go away.

I actually don’t want you to think about networking. You will be far more successful if you “Network for Mutual Benefit.” This style of networking focuses on making connections, having open conversations, helping others when you can and never asking for a job. Did you hear this – NEVER ASK FOR A JOB!!

Here are the two big tips that can help you to Network for Mutual Benefit better and with less difficulty.

1 – Start networking with people you trust and respect. Ask these folks to introduce you to other people they feel may be able to help you. Get to this introduction by having a good conversation with your friend, family member or neighbor. Share ideas, listen to what they have going on and just chat about what ever you want to talk about. When the person you are talking with asks you, “what can I do to help you?” This is what you want to ask from them, “Who else do you know that I should talk with?” They will not know about a job, they will not know about a business that would hire you. But, they may know someone else who could have some ideas or who could introduce you to yet another person who may be able to help you or give you some new ideas. This is all you want from your friends and family.  And check this out – the people who trust, respect and care for you are likely to only introduce you to good people. People who you have something in common with, because they know your friend as well. This would be easier than meeting someone you have no relevance to at all.

2 – Never ask for anything. Always focus on the person you are talking with and strive to make the conversation all about them. This is how you get them talking and sharing ideas. When appropriate, ask how you can help them. When you get permission to ask for something, likely when they ask, “How can I help you?”, ask only for one thing, “Who else do you know that I should meet?” Just as before, don’t ask for a job, instead strive to meet someone else who may have ideas and suggestions of other people or companies who may be a good connection for career ideas.

This is still hard for some people to do, so I have one more idea that may help you get started.

Don’t stress out about networking and looking for a job. Just go out and have a good time talking with people. Get comfortable having pleasant conversations with people. Practice just talking with people and asking questions. A good conversation will lead to more conversations and somewhere along the way you’ll get permission to ask, “Who else do you know that I should talk with?”

Stop Looking for a job

Really, it may be hard to understand or even do, but asking and looking for a job is getting in your way and it does not work.

You can look online thru Careerbuilder, Monster, Ladders and you’ll see lots of job openings, but I’m willing to bet for the most part that you won’t see a job that really excites your or if you apply for any of these jobs you’re not likely to get a phone call, let alone an interview or a pay check from them.

You can use LinkedIn, SimplyHired, Indeed or any of the other job aggregator sites out there and you’ll get the same result.

Go ahead and troll all of the local company websites. Many post jobs all the time. There is little to no chance any of them are real (current) or that you’ll get a chance to interview for any of them.

Here are a few reasons I am willing to bet looking for a job is not going to work for you –

  1. >80% of the job openings are not listed on any of these sites.
  2. Companies list job openings on their websites only after they have either found someone on staff to promote up or a new candidate thru other means.
  3. You don’t know the right person and they don’t know you.
  4. Everyone else is doing the exact same thing.

So – how are you going to find a job? It’s not hard, but it’s way different than most people are willing to do.

You have to Network your way into a conversation with the right person.

Thru out this blog I share ways to Network for Mutual Benefit®. Take a stroll thru the site and you’ll see what I am talking about.

Networking is a life skill that when learned and done properly will take you to that next great job.

It’s important to know that “Networking is finding, developing and nurturing relationships that mutually move people forward thru life.” If you think and live this way, you will discover the hidden job that is waiting for you and then some.

Networking will help you to meet new people, different people, people from your past and people you never thought you would ever talk with. Meeting these folks and having good open conversations with them will open the door for you to build a relationship, however simple, and then to share with them what you are trying to do. After creating a relationship and once they realize that you only want to meet others who could possibly help you, they will likely think of the next person for you to meet. That next conversation could be with someone who has an idea of a possible job or yet someone else for you to meet on this journey. Eventually you will have the right conversation with the right person and discover the right job.

Not by asking for a job, but instead asking, “Who do you think I should meet that I can help and who may have other ideas for me while I am on my job search?”

You know what happens when you ask someone for a job. Think about it, if asking for a job worked, no one would be unemployed. So stop asking and looking for a job.

Start looking for someone new to meet and ask, “How can I help you and who do you think I should meet next.”

It will work and while doing this, you’ll build a stronger broader set of connections.

Keep looking for a job and let me know when you get one.

Stop looking for a job and start networking. Let me know what this does for you.

Network thru the Holidays

I attended a Professional in Transition meeting this week and heard a conversation about Networking thru the Holidays.  Here are some of the points that I got from the discussion.  I think they are relevant to both job seekers and business developers.

  1. Don’t stop networking just because everyone else does.  If you pause any activity it takes more energy to get back up to speed when you restart.  The same thing applies for networking to find that new job or nurturing those business relations.  After a month (or so) of holiday slouching or even taking off completely, you’ll find it way more difficult to get back in the swing of things.
  2. There are less people in your way during the holidays.  Most people feel that the holidays are not a good time to network.  Of course, generally these are the same people who mistakenly believe that networking is selling or trying to get a job. Stay true to networking for mutual benefit and you’ll discover that the people working thru the holidays will want to meet & talk and those other folks are out of your way.
  3. Holiday Parties are a great place to meet new people. Don’t ignore that invitation or try to make an excuse why you can’t attend a holiday party.  Even the ones you went to last year and did not enjoy.  Instead, go and find someone new to meet and talk with.  You never know who they know or what opportunities or job openings they may know about.
  4. Volunteer thru the holidays.  Lots of professionals and business owners volunteer thru the holidays.  It’s both a great way to give back and to meet new people.  Join in on the activity of volunteering and say hello to someone new.  Again, you never know who you’ll meet and what or who they may know.
  5. Discover that you may be better off than you think.  Yes, being unemployed can be a challenge both emotionally and financially.  Knowing these are real issues is important. However, when you volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc you can find that you are better off than you thought.  This is also important to realize.  And it can actually make you feel better about yourself as you are helping others.
  6. Getting involved during the holidays can help overcome loneliness.  If you stop networking and just hibernate over the holidays, loneliness can become overwhelming.  Continue to get out and network.  This can help not just overcome loneliness, but it can also help pick up your spirits.
  7. Many corporate budgets start January 1.  Who knows, maybe that purchase decision has not been made yet. Maybe that position has not been filled yet. Maybe, while you are networking you can find that opportunity and jump in front of those who are waiting until after the holidays.  Who knows, it may happen with just a simple hello during the holidays.

So the recommendation is to continue working on building relationships and expanding your circle of contacts thru the holidays.  Stay true to Networking for Mutual benefit, which means, don’t call a contact and ask them for a job or try to sell your widget.  Just meet people, have a good time getting to know them and build new relationships while you enjoy the holidays.  Keep the momentum and good luck on your journey.


You can tell when they get it

Three people in three days and each conversation was unique.

The first conversation, over coffee, was with a guy that a mutual friend suggested that I meet.  This guy is seeking a career move and wanted some help.

I asked him some basic questions about his history and what he has been doing to find that next job.  He responded to each question with a clear response followed up by a question about me.  Our conversation was enjoyable as we learned more about each other in an easy to go coffee meet.  I think I left him with some good ideas because he was very appreciative of our time together and he asked me if there was anything he could do to help me.  I told him that we needed to stay in touch, “I may need your help in the future.”

As we left the coffee house I shook his hand, asked him to please give me a call if I can help him any more and I suggested we meet again soon.

The second conversation was with a business man who asked me if I would meet with him under the pretense that he wanted to get to know me.  In the invite email he indicated that some of our mutual business contacts suggested that he meet me.  I agreed to have lunch with him.

Early in the conversation I asked him to tell me about his business.  He proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes telling me all about his company, the benefits of doing business with him and some of the reasons why his industry peers can’t compare with him.

At one point in his “presentation” I had the opportunity to comment on something he said. My response must have touched a nerve because he cut me off with a long winded diatribe of why he felt different and how I should hire his company to help me with a project that he thought I should be doing.

During our nearly one hour lunch I don’t believe he asked me more than 2 questions.  He monopolized the conversation trying to convince me to hire his company or for me to introduce my contacts to him so that they would do business with him. I never got the opportunity to tell him I did not need his services or that I felt that none of my business contacts should contract with him either.

Before we left the lunch table I asked him to remind me who suggested to him that we meet.  I need to pay attention to whom they introduce me to in the future.

As we left the restaurant I politely shook his hand and wished him a good day. I doubt I will have lunch with him ever again.

The third conversation was with a gentleman who recently moved into town.  Again, a mutual friend suggested that he meet me, telling him that I could help him with his job search.

We met outside of one of my favorite lunch places.  As we walked up to the counter he told me that he wanted to buy my lunch because he needed my help.  I told him he did not need to do this.  He insisted, “I need your help and I want to buy you lunch in return for your guidance.”  I politely agreed and thanked him.

Over lunch he began to tell me about his career and why he moved to North Carolina. After a nice volley of conversation about ourselves and our families, I asked him some questions to get a feeling for how he thought I could help him.  He asked me some questions about my business and the work that I do with our unemployed friends, family and neighbors.

We chatted back and forth nearly 2 hours.  It was a fun conversation where I learned a bunch of cool things about the industry he used to work in and I gave him some suggestions towards his goal of finding a job in North Carolina.

As we left the restaurant, I thanked him again for buying my lunch and I suggested that we get together again soon to review his efforts toward getting that next job.

He thanked me for my time and guidance and said, “If there is ever anything I can do to help you, please give me a call.” I assured him I would.

Three people in three days.  Each conversation was unique.  Two of the people get it. One does not, and I doubt he ever will.