Secrets to Successfully Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
The spirit of giving is the secret that transforms networking from a drag into a rewarding and powerful activity. If your job hunt is sputtering out, bring it back to life with a generosity campaign.
Benefits of Focusing on Giving
1. Get better results. You’ll be more successful when you look for ways to assist others. Relatively few people will have leads if you ask them about immediate job openings that are appropriate for you. However, we can all help each other out in some way. Instead of asking for job leads, you can ask about the company culture or about your contact’s career path. You can offer insight about your career path. This helps build your relationship and may lead to the perfect contact in the future.
2. Feel more comfortable. Many people shrink away from any mention of unemployment because it’s a difficult issue. Asking for advice is an easy favor. Most people love to give advice. Asking someone you don’t know to recommend you for a job on the other hand, is asking for a lot. Basically, you are asking a stranger to put their reputation with their company on the line when they don’t know you and they have never worked with you. That is really awkward. Advice on the other hand can be extremely beneficial to you and help you build a relationship with your new contact. See if there is anything you can do to help him/her as well.
3. Expand your prospects. Maybe you have quickly exhausted the list of people you know in your field who could hire you. However, a quick way to expand your network is by asking your contacts if they know anyone else you can talk to. You can also offer yourself as a resource if they know anyone who would like to talk about your area of interest.
4. Increase your opportunities to practice. Every interaction trains you to become better at networking. You’ll be ready to follow up when an old coworker introduces you to a company vice president you’ve been trying to meet. Have some scripts ready to go for example, your elevator pitch, small talk, etc. so that you are ready for every situation.
5. Deepen your sense of validation. Being out of work can cause you to question your abilities. When you contribute, whether it is volunteering at an event or giving advice and/or support to another job seeker, you reassure yourself of your value.
6. Renew your motivation. TV can be an enticing distraction when those rejection emails flood your inbox. However, thinking of others, such as your family, and how you can help out because you are not currently working can pull you out of that funk.
How to Give When You’re Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
1. Provide publicity. Everyone loves free publicity, and the Internet makes it easy. Feature other people in your blog. Retweet their articles and post them on LinkedIn.
2. Attend events. Live events create a lot of pressure on the organizers to make a good impression. People will appreciate your boosting their turnout numbers and participating in discussions.
3. Volunteer your services. Be creative. Offer to drive a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment. Hand out flyers for a local school board candidate. Volunteering can be a great way to boost your skill set too. Find opportunities that will help you in your next job: www.volunteermatch.org
4. Support the same charities. In addition to helping others directly, consider the causes they support. If you both love animals, wash dogs together at the next fundraiser for your neighborhood animal shelter. It can be a great way to meet people who have something in common with you. You never know who you might meet and what that could lead to.
5. Offer feedback. When someone forwards you an article, read it carefully. Send them an email with thoughtful comments and additional information.
6. Praise their accomplishments. Sincere praise works wonders. Congratulate an old friend on a promotion. Let a local artist know how much you love the mural you see on your way to work.
7. Give away a free sample. If you have a product to promote, let people sample it first. Use your website or rent a booth at a community fair to reach potential customers.
8. Hand out presents. Depending on the relationship you’ve developed, tangible gifts may be a logical next step. Send a plant or a box of tea to a colleague you want to reconnect with.
9. Extend an invitation. Reach out when you hear about an event that may interest someone you want to get to know better. Forward an announcement of an upcoming lecture or let them know you have an extra ticket.
10. Accept favors in return. Giving and receiving go hand in hand. Be gracious when someone reciprocates so they can experience the pleasure of giving too.
Even if you used to dread networking, you’ll look forward to it when you see how well giving works. Most jobs are filled through personal contacts, so focus your efforts where you’ll get the highest payoff.