Want to know how to make your business network work like magic? Well, you’ve heard that the key to finding a great job is to “work your network,” right?
But what does that really mean?
Does that mean you go to 18 thousand networking events so you can kiss just as many frogs in the hope of finding Prince or Princess charming?
Or does it mean you ask your great uncle about his tennis partner’s golf buddy, and what he does for work?
It all feels very overwhelming and confusing, but there are a few tricks to working your network that will make it all seem a whole lot easier, and a whole lot less daunting – no frog kissing involved. Promise.
Understanding Your Business Network
When you’re job searching, it’s tempting to think everyone in the universe could be a potential contact for you, and I’m not going to lie, everyone potentially could be. But that’s an exhausting way to job search.
It feels impossible to track down everyone you’ve ever known and tackle the lady in the check out line so you can ask about potential job leads.
Instead, I encourage you to start with a job search target. That means, know what the heck you’re looking for in terms of a job title. That way, you know who is most likely to be able to give you the right job leads, and you can go and talk to them directly.
Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to other sources, because leads can and do come from other places, but you do have to conserve your energy. So please, stop chasing people in the parking lot with your resume.
Plant a Tree Today in Business Network Park
Ever heard the proverb that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best is today?
Same is true with your business network. If you haven’t been nurturing your business network all along (staying in touch with people, being a useful resource), the time to start is now.
Reach out to a couple of people. See what folks are working on. Offer up your services in the areas of your strengths.
The best part is, when you do it, your network will pay you back. Your network will go to bat for you when you do things for them. Think about it: How far would you bend for someone you don’t know? And how far for someone who has clearly gone out of their way to do things for you?
Be that person who has done things, no matter how small, and you’ll reap the rewards later on.
Business Networking Doesn’t Have to be a Bad Word
The second most people start think about business networking they break out into a cold sweat. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine this: You walk up to a random stranger to make small talk, ending the conversation by asking for a huge favor. Sounds like the ninth circle of Hell. That’s not what networking should be like. That’s because you shouldn’t be talking to random strangers. (Your mom already told you that).
A focus for your networking equals a reason to approach people. In other words, you might share common interests about your industry, you might want to talk about trends in the marketplace, etc. If you’re just searching for jobs scattershot, the person you’re talking to won’t necessarily have anything in common with you (ex: that lady who you tackled in the checkout line.) A targeted networking prospecting prospect will.
That means you don’t have to have any awkward moments. A conversation might be natural, even interesting! You can embrace networking!
Business Networking Is Good for Your Career
If you network correctly, it can do amazing things for your career. Don’t let it intimidate you. Instead, seek out and talk to the right people, and see what happens next!