By Lucy Dunn, May 2013
Lately I have been reading on various articles/books about networking, and would like to share some tips with my readers.
Networking is a challenge. When you have overcome the fears and actually started, the upside is enormous. Networking is about creating a community where you can exchange information, learn about new developments in the industry, as well as provide emotional support to one another. We all need to network, and it is literally “what makes the world go round”.
We are all busy with our “day jobs” so we tend not to be thinking about the next move or what would happen if our company were acquired. That means we generally overlook the importance of networking to get the next promotion.
Many say that networking should be a very structured approach you use for our work as well as for your personal matters. In Joe Sweeney’s latest book – “Networking is a contact sport”, he suggests a model which applies to everyone, no matter where you are employed and you will see positive results quickly. In a nutshell, he pioneered this “5 10 15 program” – that means - create 5 meetings/encounters, send 10 personal emails or letters and make 15 phone calls every day. Besides professional sales people, this may be a lot of time spend on networking but honestly, if you followed that prescription weekly rather than daily you would see results.
But what about reaching your dream job? From the vast number of candidates I have come across, I noticed that those who “get what they want” tend to have the following traits, and it is a variation of Joe’s networking methodology:
1. Plan your network – Who do you want to connect with? Including both internal contacts at your employer, and external business contacts.
2. Do your homework and offer something – So how do you build rapport with new contacts? It begins before the contact, and doing your homework demonstrates that you know something about him/her, their business or the competitive situations they may be facing. Building relationships is usually not about you it needs to be thought of as mostly about them. It would be best to offer something useful to the other party, may that be market intelligence, a white papers, a speaking opportunities. Think “give and NOT get”
3. Take action and make personal connection – It might be a cliché, but reaching out via phone calls or personal emails still beat social media. The personal touch and quality of these “touch points” REALLY count
4. Stay in touch – Remember “out of sight, out of mind”?
5. Celebrate success – When you hear that someone has gotten a promotion, changed jobs, landed a large contact… had some success, celebrate it with them. Drop them a line or better yet give them a call and let them share their excitement. Don’t begrudge success; get close to it, who knows it might just rug off.
6. Reciprocate – As quoted by Steven Babitsky, co-author of The Street Smart MBA, if someone has helped you, he recommends asking the individual if there is anything you might do to help him/her. The individual might be dealing with a challenge you can help alleviate. In any case, the ask is another form of building a relationship, showing to your counterpart that you are also interested in giving back
7. Finally, the most difficult practice – Ask for help. We all have a story about or a reason we don’t want to look like we need help but the truth is we all need help, with something. In #6, I suggested that you need to be willing to help others, so why not let people help you to the success you want. Be honest, tell people you need help and exactly what you want, then accept their No with as much grace as their Yes. So long as the help is offered freely the giver actually feels great and not bothered by doing so. If someone says No, thank them and CONTINUE to network, it only takes one Yes, to get what you want/need.