I have a question for you. It’s a very important one. Think back to the time when you landed your last job. How did you get it? Did you apply online? Did a friend or former coworker help you?
My guess is there’s at least a 50% chance that someone helped you. They were in some way an advocate for you, providing a great reference, or just passing your resume on to the right person.
So, what would make your job search today any different? Nothing! Although websites like Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com made it easier than ever to apply online, it doesn’t change the fact that an in person connection is incredibly helpful.
If you have negative feelings about networking, you’re not alone. I hear from many people every day that they feel badly to ask someone to have a coffee. They feel guilty because they don’t believe they’re bringing anything to the table. And, worse of all (in their minds), they need something. They need help with their job search.
So, let’s break this apart a little. First, if the person you’re meeting is successful in their own career, there’s pretty much a 100% chance that they network. Yes. They didn’t get to where they are by being brilliant alone. They’ve been fostering relationships all along the way. They understand how this works.
Second, you may perceive you bring nothing to the table, but is that really true? Here are a few examples of what you might bring and haven’t even thought of:
- You might be their perfect future employee
- You might know someone who could be perfect for a role they’re trying to fill
- You might be able to partner with them on a project
- You might know someone they’d like to be connected to at a company where they’re looking
- You might know a vendor they need an introduction to
- You might be able to provide some free insight on something you know about that they don’t (whether this is how to repair a computer or which restaurant they should take a client to)
- You might help one of their friends or family members
- You might hire them in the future after you’ve found a new job
- You might just provide friendship when they’re in a time of need
Often, you have no idea what you might bring to the table because, until you sit down with someone, you don’t know what they might need in return. And, networking is a long term endeavor of relationship building. It’s not a quick business transaction.
I remember when I first came out of college and began devoting energy to networking. “Networking” was the most exciting word to me at the time because it meant “making business friends.” And, who can’t use a few more friends?
Honestly though, the best time to network is now. If you don’t need something today, reach out to someone else who might. Building up your own good will can be a significant help in the future when you do need assistance.
If you’re not sure where to look, try these ideas first:
- Check your LinkedIn – Is there someone you haven’t spoken to in a while?
- Check out Meetup.com – Find new local networking events and special interest groups.
- Ask close friends and family – Warm introductions to new connections can go a long way!
Whatever you do, get out there and start networking. The bigger and more diverse your network is, the more likely it is you’ll be able to find help when you need it.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.