The 10 commandments of networking
Roughly 20% of open positions at the management level and upwards are advertised. In other words; four out of five job opportunities are invisible to you. So how do you tap into the elusive 80%?
Your network. Network with headhunters, who operate in your field and industry of expertise. Network with people in the kind of jobs or organizations, you want to work for. You network with former colleagues and old friends from university. You network with the network of your friends. The purpose of networking is to gather information and to make sure people know, that you are in the market, what you offer, and what you seek.
Networking is about building trust.
When people trust you, they will help you. Building trust takes time so be patient, be respectful, apply empathy and follow the 10 Commandments of Networking.
1 – Find out what you want
Clearly define the future direction of your career. If you don’t know, where you’re going, you can’t tell others about it. Consequently, ask yourself which competencies you have, what motivates you, and what your dream job looks like. Identify the industries, companies and locations that offer your dream professional challenges and match them against your personal job requirements. Be crystal clear about what you offer, what you want and where to find it.
2 – Map the people in your network
In order to identify those who are most relevant and open to engaging. They can be former colleagues, old friends from school, friends or the family, etc. Some may know you personally, and some may be mere acquaintances. The aim of the exercise is to focus your attention on the contacts most likely, and best qualified, to exchange ideas with.
3 – Practice your networking skills
With someone you know well, who can provide honest and constructive feedback. Networking requires preparation and practice. Beware the idle chit-chat when attending conferences and networking events. Such gatherings have a purpose and it is to forge new contacts of mutual benefit. A brief and clear description of who you are and what you are looking for is part and parcel of a good network introduction.
4 – Take a critical look at your social media profiles
Future contacts and potential employers are bound to check your profile so, make sure your professional online profiles are consistent with your career aspirations and the messages, you share with your network. And make sure to remove any content from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Which you may not want to form part of your professional brand. People look everywhere.
5 – Ask for advice and inspiration
When reaching out to someone in your network. Do not ask for a job! Asking for a job is too direct and implies an element of obligation on part of the other person. Nobody wants to sit with such an obligation. Asking for a job makes people run for the hills.
6 – Show interest and be yourself
Networking is not a job interview. Ask others about what is currently going on in their industry and company. Show genuine interest for their situation. And listen! You have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. Use them in proportion. Building trust begins with showing genuine interest for the other person.
7 – If you are trying to recruit people to champion you, start by asking them for advice
It shows that you value their opinion and expertise. People like to give advice and offer information about career options, ideas, and eventual job openings. Be clear about what you want advice on, and people are likely to oblige.
8 – Contact the contacts of your contacts
You may not have the right people in your network right now, so start expanding your reach. If you attend networking events, strive to leave with two or three new contacts to build a relationship with. This will maintain your momentum and widen the scope of your network. And participate in industry conferences, round-table discussions, etc. Such gatherings are excellent opportunities for meeting new and relevant contacts.
9 – Nurture your network
It is incredibly important to maintain your contacts. Follow up on meetings and email exchanges and always inform your connection, if something he/she has instigated progresses. It is about showing appreciation and keeping people in the loop. Be grateful and show gratitude. It is common courtesy and it does wonders for building trust.
10 – A networking conversation is a meeting of equals with the aim to exchange ideas and mutual interests.
Acknowledge your own competencies. Don’t perceive yourself as a mere job seeker. Present yourself based on your competencies, experience, and skills instead. You bring valuable insights, ideas, and energy to the conversation.