Networking is a contact sport, it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships. What exactly does that involve? What defines “active” networking? This is actually a great question. It opens up a discussion about not only what it means to be an “active” networker but also what it means to be a “passive” networker.
It’s graduation season so, I thought I would share some ideas on how new graduates (or even seasoned professionals) can find a new job if they are looking for employment.
Over 80% of all jobs are found through networking according to a recent study published on LinkedIn. Here are six steps to help someone who is looking for work (along with two bonus ideas when they get a great connection).
- First, get your mindset right. Desperation is not referable. Since you’ll be depending on your network to speak highly of you to their hiring manager and contacts, practice confidently touting your skills.
- Image-check your social media. Potential employers will – and you won’t want to make your network look bad if they stick their neck out and recommend you. I was once considering hiring someone and I checked out his Facebook page. OMG! He threw out the “F” bomb time after time on his posts. In addition, he posted widely inappropriate comments and tirades about people. He was not the kind of influence I wanted in my office.
- Start with current relationships. Reach out to friends, family and business contacts in person, on LinkedIn and via social media to tell them exactly what kind of position you’re looking for. Ask if they can check for any upcoming openings and keep you in mind.
- Inventory your other connections. Don’t forget to check in with neighbors, professional organizations, past customers, and community organizations for more contacts. When it comes to referrals for employment, don’t underestimate the strength of weak ties.
- Determine where you stand with these contacts. Whether they are active, passive, or dormant will determine the strategy. I can outline how to approach each. Active; pick up the phone and ask for assistance. There’s a relationship. They will most likely love to help. Passive; set an appointment to reconnect (preferably in person). Find out about them and let them know you’re looking for something. Dormant; reconnect by social media or email. Just talk. Don’t ask for anything – yet. Stay in touch, build the relationship before you ask.
- Visit organizations in the industry you want. Network right there, on the ground. Check in with the front desk, drop your resume off in-person and ask to meet with the HR director. Better yet, find out if someone in your network can connect you to a current employee in that company. Contact them through the referral. Meet them for coffee and come prepared.
Once you get a referral, do these two things:
- Research your prospective employer. Never go in without being prepared on the history of the company, their latest press releases, their corporate culture and values – whatever you can find. Checking out their website is only the start. Google the organization to get more information. If possible, find out who might be interviewing you and learn more about them. I landed one of the biggest jobs of my career (before starting BNI and long before Google) because I researched the company and knew so much about the organization and the professional background of the person interviewing me that it blew him away and he hired me.
- Offer to do a “working interview.” This is a great way for any company to take your experience and work ethic for a “test drive.” It will give you an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. If all goes well, ask them to consider you for the position. I’ve been recommending this to job-seekers for many years. In fact, one week before I wrote this article, I suggested this idea to my eldest daughter. She tried it out with a company she wanted to work for and they took her up on a “working interview.” She did such a great job, they hired her the next day!
Your network is the lifeblood of your career. Don’t let it die of professional loneliness. Learn how to network your way into a job.
Share this with anyone you know who is looking for employment.
The more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case. Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.
A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a good friend who was considered a networking expert in Europe. He did a lot of work with online networking or social networking. During this conversation, we got into a fundamental disagreement on the subject. He believed that networking was first and foremost a numbers game. He said that “the more people you were connected to the stronger your network.” At first, I went along with this comment agreeing that the number of people in your network was in fact, very important. I then said, “the only thing more important than the quantity of people was the quality of people in your network.” Suddenly, our paths diverged. He said the “quality of people in your network are really not that important, instead it is all a numbers game.”
To this day, I steadfastly disagree. Networking is not a numbers game. It’s more like a people puzzle. It’s about building relationships with the close people in your network. That means that it’s about finding ways to interconnect the relationships you have to build a powerful personal network. In order to do that – you actually have to have a fair number of quality relationships in that sea of contacts.
If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful.
Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep. That is, you need to have a wide set of contacts but some of those need to be connections that go deep. Therefore, the quality of your network is just as important, if not more important than the quantity of your network. This doesn’t mean that quantity isn’t important. It is important. The thing is that a small network of quality people limits your success. However, a large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful, personal network.
It is a little like your left hand and your right hand. Both are really important. But one is generally stronger, more powerful, and generally used more than the other. You can’t accomplish what you want as easily without both. However, one is the stronger hand. This is similar to the quantity vs. quality argument in networking.
I believe that it is NOT, what you know, or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.
Strong relationships take simple “contacts” and turn them into powerful “connections.” It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers. What really matters is if I can pick up the phone and ask some of them for a favor and they take my call then are willing to do that favor.
By the way, since that argument a few years ago, my friend is no longer in the networking business. Quantity is good but quality truly is King.
In this video, I share a story about a referral coincidence.
A misconception occurs when someone focuses on the referral rather than on the relationship that produced the referral. Understand the process of building relationships. It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important, but the ones that you turn into lasting relationships. You’ll always get better results trying to deepen relationships with people you already know than starting relationships with strangers.
Luck is where persistence meets opportunity.
Networking is not about luck, it’s about relationships. No one person is likely to turn your business around, but together, over a long time, they can make a difference.
A strategic alliance is an arrangement between two companies that have decided to share resources to undertake a specific, mutually beneficial project. With strategic alliances, each member will contribute to your success. No one person is likely to turn your business around, but together, over a long time, they can make a difference. By having a series of small actions over time, you can gradually enhance your relationships and really yield big results
Don’t give up if there’s no immediate payoff. The key is to stay in touch. The best strategic alliances stay connected several times over the year. Plus, you meet in person on several occasions. During that time, you discuss some really simple ways that you can help each other. Therefore, you gradually enhance the relationship.
Successful networking is a series of small actions. Most people who are successful at networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create long-term positive growth for your company. It’s not a get rich scheme. By working with multiple people over a long period of time, you build your business. Don’t just write somebody off if they can’t add something or contribute something to your business immediately.
If you are a member of a networking group, look at the members of the group. Each of them will contribute to your success and they layer a little bit of success on top of each other for you. Each one is a little layer of success for you. No one person in your chapter is likely to turn your business around, but together over a long period of time; they can make a dramatic difference.
In conclusion, I highly recommend that you form strategic alliances with others. By working with multiple people over a long period of time, you build an incredibly solid foundation for successful business.
We simply can’t achieve success at networking without strategically building VCP = visibility, earning credibility, and then ultimately gaining profitability.
VCP is a referral process, not a sales process. If the majority of your clients aren’t giving you referrals, then you are only at Credibility with your clients, not at Profitability. It’s possible that you can have a lot of Visibility and a lot of Credibility, but NOT have Profitability. Rather than a formula, VCP is a continuum. Before you can refer to someone, you will need to know, like, and trust them.
In this guest video blog, Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer for Asentiv Florida, explores the three stages of the VCP process. Click here to watch.
In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage. After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”
Guest Video by Andy Lopata about the A to Z’s of Networking.
This video introduces the “C’s” of Networking by Andy Lopata.
- And three more…
Please watch this video to learn more about Andy’s tips. https://youtu.be/FQhDekSYIBs
By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results.
As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.
In this video, I discuss with John Maxwell about checking your checkbook and calendar priorities and how to build your business by building relationships. I also share how I reverse engineer my goals. Finally, we discussed coaching vs. mentoring and “Farming vs. Hunting”. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.
In this video, I share with John Maxwell how BNI started with my personal need to build my business with referrals. I also share who are my mentors and the philosophy of Givers Gain. Finally, we discussed how you should make decisions based on the information you are provided WITHIN the context of your value system. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.
Are you taking advantage of the holiday season when it comes to marketing your business? You should be! Festive posts really attract audiences who are feeling sentimental or those who are looking for some services specifically around the holidays.
When meeting someone for the first time, do you ever find yourself getting tongue-tied or feeling lost when it comes to knowing what questions you should ask to get a conversation going? Help is here!
Below, I list 10 questions that I personally use when I’m meeting someone for the first time. Most of the questions shouldn’t be too surprising to you because what you’re trying to glean from an initial conversation with someone is usually pretty standard. However, there are two questions that I really, really love. One of them will allow you to get an idea of what someone is truly passionate about when it comes to their business. The other will create a powerful opportunity for you to make a real connection and begin building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
Here are ten great questions to ask someone while networking that are then likely to be asked of you in return. These would be great questions to pose during your next one-to-one meeting.
1. What do you do?
2. Who’s your target market?
3. What do you like most about what you do?
4. What’s new in your business?
5. What’s the biggest challenge for you and your business?
6. What sets you apart from your competition?
7. Why did you start your business?
8. Where is your business located?
9. What’s your most popular product?
10. How do you generate most of your business?
In his book Endless Referrals, my good friend Bob Burg posed what may be the single best question we’ve heard to ask someone about what he or she does. Bob writes that the question “must be asked smoothly and sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established”. The question is this: ‘How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?” Bob is right on the mark with this question. It separates you from the rest of the pack; it’s a question that the average person doesn’t ask. And it demonstrates one of the top ten traits of a master networker: helpfulness
Please think about what questions you ask people during an initial introduction. Do you have any different or unusual questions which you’ve found to be particularly helpful in your conversations? I’ve told you what questions I use and I’m very curious to hear what questions you’ve had success with, so please take a moment to share in the comment forum below.