Networking: A two-way Street
Q: I hate
networking. Going to crowded meetings where I don’t know anyone,
telling people I want a job and seeing them cringe, burdening my
friends with my unemployment woes and cold calling are all
activities I find repugnant. Yet, I know I have to do it, even
though it’s getting me nowhere. Obviously, I need help.
A: The first
thing you need is an attitude adjustment. When you hate what you are
doing, it’s hard to hide your distaste. People sense your discomfort
and want to flee.
You also don’t
understand how to network effectively. It’s not all about you.
have plenty of company when it comes to networking misconceptions.
However, with a little forethought and some targeted research, you
and other misinformed job seekers can become candidates almost
anyone would be happy to help.
methods generally derive from a "me-against-the-world"
understanding of his contact's perspective, a job seeker seems to be
selfish and unconcerned about anyone but himself. Put this myopic
individual together with a busy professional working under a lot of
stress and feeling stretched to the limit, and you have a recipe for
To be a
successful networker, you must perceive the process as a two-way
street. If you want a favor from a stranger, be prepared to give her
a motive for attending to your needs instead of putting the time
into her own pressing project. Here are some tips for becoming a
nominee for Networker of the Year:
people may be willing to give you information for a variety of
reasons. They may do it as a favor to a friend or manager whom they
respect, admire (or fear). They may enjoy playing the "expert." They
may have an altruistic desire to help you in making a critical life
decision. You might have valuable information or business
opportunities for them either now or in the future. They are always
looking for great employees, and you sound like a worthwhile
prospect. Perhaps, they’re in a really good mood when you
serendipitously call at just the right moment.
motive, you must be prepared to allude to one or more of the above
reasons for contacting. For instance, if your good friend Jim
Collins suggested you get in touch with his other good friend Susan
in Atlanta, you would say, "Hi. This is Taunee Besson. Jim Collins
and I were playing golf last Saturday when your name came up in the
conversation. I told Jim I was thinking about moving to Atlanta and
he said that, before I talk to anyone else, I should call you. He’s
sure you’re the best person to tell me about the city and introduce
me to everyone worth knowing. Since I've always found Jim's advice
to be right on target, I'm starting my Atlanta research with you.
Besides I promised I would send his regards, ask about your new
granddaughter, and report back to Jim on our conversation."
By starting your
call with these few carefully selected words, you have alluded to an
important friendship between Susan and Jim, told her she is an
acknowledged expert on Atlanta, indicated you are also a good buddy
of Jim's, who might make an excellent employee or colleague for her
or one of her friends, mentioned that you agreed to tell Jim about
your conversation, and asked about her granddaughter, who
undoubtedly is the light of her life. How can this women refuse to
talk to you when you've given her so many good reasons to believe
your impending phone conversation or visit will be both enjoyable