You already know this networking tip: networking is often about job hunting.
It’s not a secret, but we all like to pretend it is. After all, who wants someone to walk up to them and ask “hey, got a job for me?” Even worse, who wants to be that guy who has to ask?
So we pretend that networking is about more than that. Ok, it IS actually about more than that. A lot more. It can be about building your career, meeting new people, and creating amazing opportunities.
But when you’re looking for a new job, it’s easy to make it all about one thing: “have you got a job for me?”
Networking Tip: Job Hunting is About More Than the Job
Obviously, you can’t walk around asking random people if they have a job for you. They might not know who you are, what you offer, or why they should hire you. But there are other reasons you should spend time networking that isn’t just asking that one question.
Here’s the goal: You want to become recognized as an influencer in your area of expertise so people come to you when they think of whatever it is that you do. The only way to do that is to get known, and to know the right people. AKA networking. Networking helps to build your brand and get you hired when the job you want does actually come knocking.
We (Almost) All Hate Networking (But We Shouldn’t)
But let’s face it, networking for many of us can feel like a degrading experience. We don’t like to reach out to people we don’t know or people we haven’t spoken to in years, especially to ask for something. And who knows what to say?
But when you do know what to say and it feels less sales-y and more like a genuine conversation, networking begins to feel like talking to people. Lots of us like talking to people!
Networking Tip: Networking shouldn’t be a terrible experience. It doesn’t have to steal your pride and humiliate you.
Networking Tip: Keeping Your Pride
The first way to keep your pride when asking for a job is to not ask, but to be asked. If you’ve networked so well that you have become known, and people come to you for opportunities, then you don’t have to ask anyone for anything, except for a pen with which to sign your employment agreement.
Networking Tip: You still have to get out there and get to know people. You’ll still have to tell them what you do, but you won’t have to beg them for a job.
Networking Tip: Reaching Out to People You Don’t Know
When you are building your network, you’re reaching out to people you don’t know. What do you say to those people? Do you avoid asking them for a job at all?
Networking Tip: Concentrate on letting them know your situation, and learning about theirs. If you make a good impression, they may pass your resume along to the right people. You may even ask them to do it, but if you make a good enough impression about who you are and what you can do for a company or in the industry, you may not even have to. They may ask you for it.
Networking Tip: Reaching Out to People You Do Know
In theory, reaching out to people you do know should be easier, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, we worry that we haven’t talked to these people in ages, that we’ve let favors they’ve asked of us slip, or that they might not see us the way we’re looking to be seen, which undermines our confidence.
Networking Tip: Do your best to address any fears you might have about reaching out to the people you know. Think about the value you can add to them or to the company, and what you’d like to learn, not just asking for a job. Many times, people are happy to reconnect, and are willing to share knowledge or do favors, but you won’t know unless you ask.
Networking Tip: Losing Your Pride?
Is it losing your pride to ask someone for a job or ask to have your resume passed along? Absolutely not! Not if you can talk about the value you add, instead of showing up like a beggar in need. Think about what you can do for them, the company they represent, or the company they can connect you with, not just what they are doing for you.
Networking Tip: Think about it this way: If, for a moment, you could imagine you were a famous, genius, billionaire, inventor and problem-solver, capable of making a company millions in the first year you were there, wouldn’t you consider it a favor to them to have your resume passed along?
Now, you are probably all of those things, except not quite as rich or famous. 🙂
Networking Tip: Think about the value you add, and how you can talk about yourself in a way that makes the employer or person you’re networking with understand that they would be silly not to want to interview you.
If you need help networking or building a brand that feels authentic and wows your audience, contact me, and I can help.