Networking: Your Most Important Career Activity

So, you’ve gotten totally clear on your career goals, prepared your complete “executive portfolio” of self-marketing documents, and developed a detailed strategy for your search.

Now it’s time for “your feet to meet the street” – and that means NETWORKING! You’ll be spending most of your job search time networking with people who can help you reach the hiring managers inside the companies you’ve targeted. You can network over the phone, in person, via e-mail, or even over a cup of coffee or lunch.

The main thing to remember is that, in general, people want to help others. It makes them feel good to connect people with opportunities and information. And, of course, these people really are quite important to your career success! (Just as you may have been very important to the career success of others in the past – and certainly will be again in the future!)

Ninety percent of my clients land great jobs through their networks. It’s not worth risking those odds to NOT be continually networking! It should be the primary focus of everything you do. The quantity and quality of your networking time is directly related to the personal, professional, and financial satisfaction you’ll have in your next job – and your entire career.

Many clients have told me that networking intimidates them. They can’t understand why anyone would actually want to network with them, and they feel like they’re imposing on people – most of whom they don’t even know. Let’s review some of the reasons why someone would actually WANT to talk with you:

  • They might (secretly) be looking for a job soon themselves, and they can learn from your approach.
  • They might gain new information about their industry or their competition – plus other knowledge or perspective that you bring.
  • They like to feel important, have their “ego stroked,” and feel that their advice is valued and respected.
  • Many people genuinely WANT to help, and they find it gratifying to be of service.
  • They might be bored, and you can provide welcome relief from their “normal routine.”
  • They’re happy to do a favor for the person who referred you, by agreeing to network with you.
  • They’ve been through a job search or career transition themselves, so they empathize with you.

When it’s done properly, networking is NOT about “taking,” but rather about “giving.” You must always come from an attitude of generosity during the networking process. When a networking conversation has been concluded, the other person should genuinely feel glad that you contacted them, and feel enriched by the experience. So, always seek to offer something of value before asking for something from others.

Networking is a lot simpler (and less scary) than many people think. You do NOT need to be a great “schmoozer” to network effectively. In fact, the best networkers are often great listeners, more than great talkers!

And no matter what, don’t let up on your networking efforts. Remember: If you’re in career transition, networking IS your job. You should be spending at least 85% of your time networking … and 15% on everything else!

If someone is not willing to network with you, you must learn to NOT take it personally. Adopt this powerful formula from the world of sales – SWSWSWN! What does this mean? “Some Will (help you), Some Won’t (help you), So What, Next!” (Move on to the next person). Keep working through your network list, and don’t let the occasional rejection deter you! Just move on to the next person on your list.

I hope you can now see that it’s a smart career move to always be networking, no matter what’s going on for you professionally. If you don’t need help at this time, build up your networking power by helping others. Networking – which is such a vital element of career management – will always pay big dividends in the long run!

Copyright 2007, Career Potential, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2007, Career Potential, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a career consultant who helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love and earn what they deserve!

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