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The Secret to Networking

The story I’m about to share is very common. A job seeker recently came to me with a problem. They’d been looking everywhere for the right job. Finally, they found it. It was just what they were looking for, and their skills were a perfect match. Even better, a close friend should be able to be their advocate. It seemed to be a slam dunk opportunity, but then, something went wrong. The close friend didn’t follow through. They really let the job seeker down. It was terribly confusing and disheartening.

Have you ever had this happen? It can feel surprising how unhelpful people can be when they’re the ones you really count on.

In reality, the people who will help you to land a job are rarely the ones you’d expect. People who help out are very often random people you don’t think about very much. They’re what’s called a “weak tie” or a loose connection. These are people who are different than you. They’re tapped into different social networks than you are, and they know about different opportunities.

Tanya Menon describes the concept of weak ties in her TEDx Talk. In it, she states that, “weak ties are your ticket to a whole new social world.” And, it’s true. If you think of who your close friends are, they’re often people who are very similar to you. They may be the same nationality, the same gender, and they very likely have the same political and religious views that you do.

By opening yourself up to people who are different than you, you’re unlocking a world of possibilities. You’re creating a new network that may help you to tune into new opportunities, or may happen to have a connection to the job you’re most interested in. The impact of weak ties is truly exponential.

You may wonder how you can expand your network. In all honesty, it can be tricky at first. In her talk, Menon suggests taking a different route to do common things at work, such as getting coffee. Something like this can be very simple, but it can create a big impact.

I strongly believe in this idea. So much so that I have taken it to an extreme from time to time. I once took a salsa dancing class in Stockholm, Sweden. I also attended a hackathon in Sydney, Australia. It’s a weekend when technology professionals come together to create new products.

You would be amazed at how many new connections you can make when you do something so unusual. I’m certain I met no tourists in Stockholm or Sydney. The participants were all locals and I learned so much that I would have never been exposed to.

In this time of opposing views, take a moment to get to know someone who’s a bit different than you. You may find that you have more in common than you would have imagined.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

Talk to Strangers

If you’re like me, the adults in your life taught you early on, “Don’t talk to strangers.” You may have even heard the phrase, “stranger danger.” The idea is that strangers can harm you in some way. Staying away from strangers kept you safe from kidnapping or something else bad.

I whole heartedly agree with this idea for children. As a child, avoiding strangers helped me to keep myself safe in a number of potentially dangerous situations. Frankly, I still sometimes avoid strangers in public places for fear that “something” might go wrong. It’s like a residual reaction left over from childhood.

In reality, as a professional, strangers are the very people you want to talk to. I don’t mean the random people you pass in the street. I’m talking about the person you’re sitting next to at a professional conference. Or, perhaps there’s a new employee in another department you haven’t met. It could even be the person sitting next to you at a coffee shop.

I like to think of networking as making new friends. And, new friends are all around you. William Butler Yeats once said, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

The same applies for LinkedIn. I’m often asked by job seekers whether or not to accept connection requests from strangers on LinkedIn. Most people prefer to only connect to others they have worked with before. But, if you’re in the business of looking for a job, connections are everything. Expanding your network means there will be a greater chance that you’ll know someone at the next job you apply for.

In fact, LinkedIn prioritizes candidates who have connections at companies where they apply for jobs. When you apply to a job on LinkedIn, LinkedIn sends your information (along with every other applicant) to the recruiter or hiring manager. LinkedIn has to decide who to rank first, and having connections with the company is one of the factors they consider.

On top of that, LinkedIn will let you contact strangers, if they are second and third degree connections. This means that you may be able to reach out to a hiring manager you don’t know – if you have enough first degree connections.

In real life, you may wonder what this looks like, especially if you don’t typically work to build your new connections. Take the time to introduce yourself to new people at events and parties. Ask the other person about themselves. Listen carefully. Afterward, follow up with the person on LinkedIn and set a time to connect again in person.

With enough practice, these sorts of interactions will become a bit more natural and less forced. And, with enough follow up, the strangers you meet won’t be strangers anymore. They’ll be business contacts. They’ll be friends. They’ll be people who you can turn to when you are looking for a new job at a new company.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

SXSW 2018 Recap: My First Year Experience

I recently had the opportunity to attend South by Southwest in Austin, Texas for the first time. If you’ve never been, SXSW is a giant festival in downtown Austin that draws in thousands of people. Founded in 1987, SXSW has boasted an economic impact to Austin of over $300 M in past years.

Since it started, SXSW has grown in both size and scope. It is now a combination of a number of festivals in one, including music, film, comedy, interactive, health and more. My main focus was on the “more” part. I attended a number of sessions on topics related to today’s workplace trends.

The workplace sessions were structured in one of two ways. Either a single speaker would give a lecture on one topic, or a panel of three to five experts would weigh in on a particular issue. Topics ranged from negotiation to sexism to diversity to new employer perks to faith in the workplace to the gender pay gap to neurodiversity. This was a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time!

As you can imagine, the speakers were both incredibly talented and informative. In fact, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a number of them for my podcast.

So many important ideas were shared in these workplace sessions. Some companies are now offering creative benefits, including paying back your student loans after you finish college. It’s no longer unusual to start your career over from scratch midway through, and more programs than ever are available to help make the process possible. Organizations are increasing their focus on diversity and inclusion, using both their existing teams and new technology to make it happen.

But, the point that I really took away from my SXSW experience has to do with networking. You can listen to all of the lectures presented, but nothing compares to what you can learn from other people. And, SXSW is the perfect place to meet or reconnect with those people.

I met up with a number of old colleagues during my visit. I met a number of new people, from various industries and from around the world. And, I met a number of great people from career websites LinkedIn and Indeed.

These conversations provided an incredible amount of value – more than I could have gained in any classroom. They led to new connections, new ideas, new podcast episodes, and new opportunities.

The experience reminded me just how important networking is to your overall career. It’s not only important to meet new people, but it’s important to stay in touch. It’s important to reconnect. It’s important to help one another. Networking is very often what your next job is made from.

I look forward to attending SXSW again next year. But, my focus on networking will increase. After all, where else in the world can you connect with so many creative and talented people in one place?

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

165 | Friend of a Friend – Dr. David Burkus, Author, Speaker, Professor, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Episode 165 is live! This week, we talk with Dr. David Burkus in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

David is an author, speaker, and associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University. His new book, Friend of a Friend, offers readers a new perspective on how to grow their networks and build key connections. He also gave a TEDx Talk titled, “Why you should know how much your coworkers get paid.”

On today’s episode, David shares:

  • What pay transparency is, and the pros and cons of using it
  • Why we may feel underpaid, and what we can do about it
  • Why networking and professional networks are important to our careers
  • What a super connector is, and why they matter
  • What you can do if you’re looking for a networking option that’s not a mixer

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about David and his new book Friend of a Friend, visit his website at https://davidburkus.com.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send me your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

People Hire People

If you’re looking for a job, there’s a good chance you’re applying online. And, chances are good that applying online is your go to option. It makes sense. The last time you reached out to a HR person at a job fair or on LinkedIn (or anywhere else), they said, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you!” They may even have said, “Don’t reach out to us. We review every application carefully.”

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, they’re giving you the company line. They’re telling you the official rules of the game. But, this is the thing: people hire people. Yes, you heard me right. People hire people.

Most hiring managers do not post a new job and then think, “I sure hope our company website lands me a great hire this time!”

Most hiring managers post their jobs to the company website because they have to. It may even be automated. When they got the approval to hire someone, the powers that be took a copy of the job description and uploaded it into a system somewhere – and bam, it showed up on the company website.

When a hiring manager gets approval to hire someone, this is what they typically think. “Hmm… do I know anyone who might be able to do this job? Or… I wonder if I know anyone who knows anyone.”

This process makes sense if you think about it. When’s the last time you found a new doctor solely from the internet? You probably asked friends for a recommendation. Iif you couldn’t find a recommendation, you may have looked at reviews online. But, chances are good you asked around first. It works the same way with hiring.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply online? No. Apply online. But, then think of how you can meet the real life people who will be making this important hiring decision.

If you go the route of applying online only, it may take you hundreds of applications to land an interview. I hear from people every day who have applied to 100 or more jobs online, only to receive very few callbacks.

If you’re the exception to this rule, awesome. There are exceptions. For example, you may have a skillset that’s rare where you live. Or, maybe you do something that’s incredibly specialized. I have a friend who is an Abinitio developer. Ever heard of it? Me either. And because this friend has such a specific (and rare) skillset, he could probably apply online and get a call back. But, most jobs aren’t like that.

Go old school with your job search to find success. Find the hiring manager and get your resume to them – via a friend, email, or US Mail. The internet is amazing for research. Never have we had so much data about companies at our fingers. But at the end of the day, people hire people.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

The Secret to Using LinkedIn Effectively

There’s a question that many new job seekers are thinking about. “Do I really need to use Linkedin, and how can I use it effectively?”

The first answer is straightforward. Yes, you need to use LinkedIn. You need to use it for your job search. And, honestly, you need to use it before your job search. It should be part of your professional brand – similar to carrying a business card. Integrating LinkedIn into your daily business practice will make it both easier and more effective in the long run.

So, the next question is around how to use LinkedIn effectively. Sometimes, people ask me if there’s a course they can take. And actually, I do teach a workshop about LinkedIn. But in reality, you don’t need a special class to use LinkedIn.

The main thing you need to do to become good at LinkedIn is use LinkedIn. You heard me right. Use it. It’s like Facebook. If you only looked at Facebook every six months, you might wonder how it works. It would be a bit unclear how to find your friends or how to accept party invitations. But, if you’re like most people, you use Facebook every day. And, after a while, it becomes second nature.

So, where to begin? First, you need a profile picture. I get it. You may not really like putting up photos of yourself. You may not have a recent photo you like. I totally hear you. But, in order to use LinkedIn effectively, you’ve gotta do it. Don’t feel like you need to hire a professional photographer. A friend could even take a decent photo on your smartphone. Just be sure that you look professional and the photo is only you. Ideally, you want to smile.

Next, fill out your profile. Put in as much information as you can. Include a mini-bio of yourself in the Summary section. Include your jobs in the Experience section, along with detail about what you did. Include your degrees (but omit the year you graduated). Fill it out – all of it.

Then, ask your trusted contacts to leave reviews of your work under the Recommendations section.

If you’re really feeling ambitious, turn on the “open candidate” feature. This is where you let recruiters now that you’re open for new jobs. It’s also a place where you can leave notes for recruiters about your dream job, including desired job titles, locations, and industries.

Now, get out there and use LinkedIn. Follow companies, participate in discussions, share articles, connect to colleagues and yes – do consider connecting to someone you don’t already know in real life. After all, how are you going to meet new people if you don’t meet new people?

That’s it. Just like Facebook, the more you use LinkedIn, the easier it gets. The more intuitive it becomes. The more aware of little features you become. It’s just that simple.

Remember, don’t put information on LinkedIn that you wouldn’t want your boss to see. Don’t share confidential company stats. And, definitely don’t SAY that you are looking for a job.

There’s no secret to it. Well, except maybe this one. The secret to using LinkedIn is to use LinkedIn. :c)

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or 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.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach