A few weeks ago, Jason Elrick blogged about helping a candidate who was trying to get his career back on track and find a better job. One of the tips Jason shared with him was to start networking. It’s easy advice to give, but exactly what does that look like when you put it into practice?
Jeff Abbott, a great friend and the wise chair of several Convene groups, is an expert networker. At one of our job workshops, Jeff spoke on the importance of one goal in networking: Expect to give before you get. Help a new friend reach his or her goal, and maybe later he or she will be able to help you. In the many years that we’ve known Jeff, he is always building relationships by helping people first and earning the right to ask for help in return–usually for another person, seldom for himself! As a result, people jump to help him when he asks, and Jeff’s network is ginormous.
Jeff Haden, a columnist for Inc.com, agrees. His recent article on networking contains five embarrassing things not to do in networking, which every candidate should take to heart. Here’s a quick summary of them that can help you start networking effectively:
Don’t try to take before you give. To establish a meaningful connection that benefits both people, you have to focus on the other person’s needs.
Don’t assume others care about your needs. Promoting you isn’t someone else’s responsibility, but they’re more likely to want to help if you’ve shown you care about them.
Don’t take the shotgun approach. Be selective in whom you choose to network with. Not everyone can help, and you can only genuinely care about a certain number of people.
Don’t assume tools create connections. Social media may help you initially connect, but you still have to become a real friend for networking to work.
Don’t reach too high. Be realistic about which connections can be mutually beneficial.
Another friend of ours is part of a networking group called TEAM, which stands for Together Everyone Achieves More. Every week, they meet and take turns learning about each others’ businesses in detail. This enables members to make knowledgeable referrals, both internally and within each member’s personal network. Their system truly does help them achieve more because they come prepared to give, not just get.
If you’ve been wanting to find a better job and wondering how to start networking effectively, take to heart the advice of these networking experts. Begin establishing meaningful connections by first helping others reach their goals. The good will you generate is bound to come back to you and create more connections that can further the career you really want.
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