What “networking” is (and it may not be what you think)

It is generally believed that up to 85% of all job positions that are filled, are never posted. This seems high to me; but whatever the real number is, it is undeniably true that employers prefer to hire those who are referred to them.

As a job seeker, then, your challenge is to get a referral.

Which means you need to meet more people.

Which means you need to Network.

To increase the likelihood of landing the position you want, you need to meet someone who can refer you.

To increase the likelihood of landing the position you want, you need to meet the person who can refer you.

Many people believe “networking” is a contest, going to industry conferences, schmoozing, handing out as many business cards and collecting as many as you can. For many of us, the very idea of making small talk with lots of people we don’t know is uncomfortable at best, and even paralyzing.

Some of us believe “networking” can be adding lots of people on LinkedIn or Twitter, because it is easier to “talk” if we never have to actually meet.

I am not going to try to “out-introvert” any of you. Just understand that I buy more books in year than I have Facebook friends. I have never been naturally gifted with the art of small talk (my brother got these genes. I got the good looks). But I have learned this:

Networking is not about adding as many people as I can into my contact list. Nor is networking accomplished predominately, on social media.

Networking is about developing added-value relationships.

That is, every time you meet someone new, you should be asking yourself, “How can I help this person?”

And how do you know how you can help someone?

            Ask them!

            Listen to their answer!

            Follow up!

Once I learned this, “networking” became something I actually enjoy.

I still go to my share of large industry conferences, and I do collect my share of business cards. However I do not have as my goal to meet as many people as possible. I have as my goal:

Meet one new person, and see how I can help them.

Do this often enough, and your network will grow. Even more, you greatly increase the likelihood of finding the person who can, and will, refer you to a hiring decision maker.

I’ll share tips I’ve learned to become a better “networker” in future posts. Follow along!

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

I want to hear from you. Connect with me on FacebookLinkedIn andTwitter, or leave a comment below, and let me know what you think!

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