If you’re up to your eyeballs in job applications this holiday season, it’s possible that you’re not networking enough. Great networkers never have to apply for jobs because they’ve made sure that someone in their network always has them in mind as a candidate. While it can be exhausting to always have your networking hat on, human interaction always beats the job applications that seemingly fly into cyber space. It’s do or die! Given that more than half of the vacancies in the United States don’t go posted, the jobs that do get posted are arguably less desirable. For this reason, I’d love to share the mentality of an excellent networker:
1. Networking is a way of life. Great networkers realize that the worst time to network is when you need something. It could take up to a year for you to discover a vacancy that interests you, and the best way to ensure it comes to your attention is to alert your network of your interests well before you’re even on the job hunt. For example, a great networker always makes sure to maintain “warm” contacts, meaning they keep the relationship going through a phone call, coffee, or email (not as ideal) every 4-6 months. They stand out for remembering something important and personal about each of their contacts so that when they check in, they can follow up on something close to the other person’s heart. These meetings then serve as opportunities for them to enjoy their relationship with their contact and share that they may be curious about their next career move.
2. A person in a different field is still an excellent contact. A common faux pas of new networkers is to assume that someone in an entirely different field cannot serve as a great resource to them. I encourage all networkers to realize that if someone from a different field is smart enough to be networking with you, they have a robust network in their own hands. If you’re personable and helpful, people will look to support you — and better yet, connect you to other members of their network– when you share your career interests with them.
3. Always be a connector. This is the most important part of being an excellent networker. The very best networkers realize that they cannot survive without contributing to the networking pool. For this reason, they are always using their network (ie. people they met in other industries!) to connect others who may have similar interests to anyone they meet. These people get more because they give more. There’s a certain amount of gratitude and loyalty that is built when you show someone that you’re willing to potentially enrich their career by opening up your network. Side note: Only do this when you respect the person on a basic level.
What’s starkly absent in this post is my general gratitude for what networking has brought into my life. It’s not just about building “contacts” and “passing your resume around,” it’s an opportunity to build meaningful and unexpected relationships in your life. Okay– I will stop getting emotional about networking… But seriously, each time you get dressed up and show up at a networking event, I congratulate you for rising above the fear and growing as a person.