Networking… What does this word mean to you? To some, it means going to events and collecting as many business cards as possible, to others it means building meaningful relationships in the workforce. For me, networking is security- it’s my job security, it’s my income, and it’s my career path.
This blog post is for those of you who feel like takers when you network. I’m here to show you that networking is giving, for all parties involved. Your network is your miracle.
I completed my undergraduate degree at the height of the recession, and I dodged the job hunt bullet by diving into grad school… But then I graduated. This was when I realized that my network is my golden ticket in life. The more I networked, the less I had to apply for jobs… And to me, nothing is worse than that feeling you get with a job application, where it seems like your resume has flown into a dark cyberspace.
Here are three truths about networking:
1. NETWORKING IS A WAY OF LIFE.
It’s not just something that happens at networking events or conferences, it’s what you do in Starbucks, it’s what you do in the grocery store and it’s what you do on airplanes. In fact, I got three new clients last month while I was standing in the bathroom line at Chili’s. Networking means that your mind and your heart are always open to having a conversation. If you are willing to see it as a way of daily life, you will create a space for miracles in your career.
When I first started my career coaching practice, I filled my business to the point of having a wait list in just three months. This was before I had a website, a business card, an office or even an updated Linkedin profile. My success was largely due to the fact that every single day, I woke up ready for my next conversation. If you wake up every morning open to your next conversation, your career will soar. So, for those of you who tell me you don’t have any contacts… My answer: go make some. Take a walk, hit the grocery store, stand in a bathroom line somewhere. Just have a conversation…
2. NETWORKING IS GIVING, FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED.
A lot of my 20something and 30something year old clients tell me that they feel like networking is taking. As they reach out to seasoned professionals for a helping hand in their job hunt, they tell me they feel that they have nothing to offer due to their lack of experience. To those of you here who feel that way sometimes, I hope to change your mind… Because I believe that networking is giving, for all parties involved.
More often than not, the people who will network with you understand the value of helping you as you tap into the workforce. They understand that you will rise in the ranks of your career and that your eventual success is their success. Hundreds of people lent me a helping hand while I was networking my way into the Pentagon, and I can tell you that many circled back and asked favors of me just a few months later. I happily obliged because THAT is the circle of networking.
Networking is also giving because the more you people you know, the more people you can help. If you want to shine in your career, become a connector. And, as you know, this means building that muscle within you to be having conversations… Network so that you can connect people to each other in your networking pool… And do this without expecting anything back. When you do, you’ll be amazed at what comes back to you anyway. For me, it came in the form of unexpected opportunities such as TEDx talk invitations, articles in newspapers, and endless job offers.
Another interesting truth is that many companies dread the hiring process. This means that countless recruiters and employees are just waiting for your sparkling resume and personality to hit their inbox. In fact, I get emails every week from recruiters begging me to send them my clients who fit their job listings. They tell me that they’ve spent weeks hunting for the right candidate. On top of that, many companies offer their employees massive referral bonuses if they send a good hire their direction. For this reason, employees around the world are dying for the right candidate to unexpectedly email them. Your resume could essentially fund their next family vacation. Know for sure that networking is not cheating… It’s giving; it’s just the science of how information is now spread.
3. NETWORKING IS ALL ABOUT YOUR ENERGY.
Scientists are now saying that when a butterfly flaps its wings on the tip of South America, it affects the winds in the North Pole. We are all very connected, and so it’s no surprise that your energy can dictate the way that people may respond to you. In fact, I believe that every thought creates form on some level… This means that your energy counts. In 1992, a Japanese doctor by the name of Masaru Emoto sought out to demonstrate the power of human thought by conducting a very interesting experiment with water. Emoto studied the molecular composition of water to display that human consciousness—in the form of positive or negative thoughts— can have an impact on the molecular makeup of water.
Emoto took water from one source, and then used high-speed photography to take some snapshots of its molecular composition. He exposed one glass of the water to music with lyrics that focused on love and gratitude; separately, he exposed the other glass of water to heavy metal music about heartache and sadness. He used high-speed photography to capture the molecular transformations in the separate glasses, and his results were groundbreaking. The molecules in the water that was exposed to positive words formed into crystallized, beautiful snowflakes; the molecules in the water that was exposed to the sad, heavy metal music formed into scattered, dark and disjointed snowflakes. And here’s something to think about… Our bodies are made up of roughly 70% water; looks like our thoughts count.
This means that when we buy into the social chatter about the bad economy or the tough job hunt, we are changing our bodies on a cellular and molecular level. Others can feel your fear or your gratitude when you’re networking, and that’s why it’s critical to pay attention to your negative thoughts. This self-awareness is a level of intelligence that I see in the very best networkers. Part of this means accepting yourself no matter where the conversation goes or how the person makes you feel. If you walk into a room defeated, the conversation will never take the life of its full potential.
To those of you who feel like networking is taking, I hope you’ve reconsidered. Networking is a way of life, it’s the highest form of giving in the workforce, and it’s all about your energy. As author and speaker Byron Katie says: “You can get anything you want if you ask 1,000 people.” And trust me when I tell you that the worst time to ask is when you need something. So start now. Have a conversation everyday. It doesn’t have to be as big as we make it out to be.