If you're networking like our protagonist, Norman Networker, your networking is not working. But we all hear finding your next job is all about networking:
• 80% of jobs are captured through networking
• I’ve never advertised, it’s all networking
• I’m not an alcoholic, I’m networking
Why is networking not working to get your next job or land that big client?
It may depend on who you're talking about - you or them. Every human being, including who you are networking with, thinks more about themself than anyone else - may be a survival mechanism. Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. So can networking be the best way to win friends and influence people?
Remember your Griswoldesque neighbor who feigns interest in what you have to say only to let you know how wonderful HIS life is? He is smarter than Biden and Trump put together and his great _______________ (fill in the blank with anything he describes as awesome i.e. HIS garden, HIS landscape, HIS home-brewed beer, HIS smoked brisket...) can’t be found in any store or on Amazon. Let’s call him Norman Networker.
Norman is a walking, breathing Facebook post of HIS best breakfast with the best sunrise in the best venue on Earth. Networking for Norm is an opportunity to shine a bright light on HIMSELF. He craves the Likes, Hearts and an alphabet of smiley emojis. (Getting the picture?)
Exhale Norman! Networking in a job search is not meeting for coffee to talk about yourself with no plan for more than bagels. Sliding your resume across the table and asking, “what do you think? Know anyone who’s hiring?” Norman, Norman, Norman… it’s YOUR job to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.
No wonder networking is not working for Norman. Norm isn’t networking at all. After the obligatory response, “if something comes up, I’ll be sure and let you know” Norm will have a tough time getting a follow-up meeting.
I’d like to share these tips with Norman Networker, but he doesn’t listen:
• Find a WHY for both of us. Research how a networking meeting could be of value to both parties. Networking is not just about you.
• Treat a networking meeting like it could be worth a million dollars.
• Send a formal meeting request, forward a simple agenda clarifying expectations.
• Confirm every appointment. You make the reservation, get the table, be early.
• Have a stop time as well as a start time. You may have nowhere to go and a long time to get there but respect others’ schedule.
• Prepare an advance list of people and companies that may be of value to your networking partner. Discuss how you can help. Then share your needs.
• Ask smart questions to position yourself as someone who knows what matters.
• Don’t ask to pick my brain, that’s creepy and gross.
• Take notes. It’s a sign of respect and creates an easy follow-up on who committed to do what. Execute on recommendations and assume responsibility to follow up on every next step.
• Do exactly what you said you would do without delay.
• Copy or bcc your source on every referral outreach. Keep them in the loop.
• Start and end every networking meeting with a valuable connection you could make, a way you could help or a resource you can provide.
After 25 years of meetings, I know a thing or two about networking because I've seen a thing or two. How can I help?
To get in touch with Executive Career Coach, Mark Gonska, use this link to schedule a 15 minute phone call, or fill out this form to tell him more about your situation.