The goal of networking is NOT to start asking about job opportunities the instant you meet someone. The goal of networking is to create a connection or establish a relationship with someone.
As a Career Coach, I’ve noticed that many professionals looking to reinvent their career make the mistake of sending a message to others, ” I need a job.” But instead, you want to be sending the message that you’re a successful professional who’s resourceful, well connected, and who has some similar interests as they do. You want them to realize that you are someone that THEY should get to know!
Below is my simple step-by-step process to help you build a powerful network to get more job leads, referrals and recommendations…
- Seek out others in the industry or job role where you want to work.
The next time you meet someone who works for a company where you want to work, or in a job role that you’d like to have, keep the conversation focused on that person (it’s not about you! -at least not yet!) Talk about their latest marketing campaign or product launch, or something new or interesting that’s going on inside their company.
- Ask to keep in touch!
Next, you don’t need to have a long, in-depth conversation with each person. Instead, when you feel that the conversation has run its course, simply say, “I’d love to stay in touch – how about if we exchange business cards?”
- Send the message that you’re knowledgable and resourceful!
Follow up by sending a piece of information you think they might be interested in such as an article, or the results of a new study, a link to a cool website that relates to their business, or an announcement about an upcoming conference or networking event. You want to send the message that you’re someone who is well connected, resourceful and that you are someone that they want in their network!
- Mention a few of your contributions and successes!
Once the door is open, then talk about some projects or teams that you’ve worked on that have been successful. One thing that works really well for me, is offering to share tips, insight or lessons I learned about the project. l I find that by doing this, people who appreciate these successes will naturally gravitate towards me. And it provides the foundation for a long-term relationship.
- After you’ve established a relationship, then drop the hint!
If you’re looking for a new job, then go ahead and drop a hint that you’re looking for “other opportunities.”
Believe me, when you use this simple step-by-step formula, if your connections know of any opportunities they’re going to let you know!
One final thought, I strongly believe that no matter where you are in your career, we’re always in a position to help out others. Is there someone else you can support by introducing her to a potential employer, or giving a recommendation, or inviting to a networking event? Sometimes we get caught up in focusing just on ourselves, but remember that when we help out others along the way – the universe gives back to us more than we ever dreamed possible.
Bottom line: you need a powerful network if you want to have a powerful career.
So start making connections and nurturing your professional relationships. You’ll find that once you have a strong team of career influencers on your side, doors to new opportunities will open and career will soar!
If you’re ready to make a career change, get some professional help. You’ll have an easier, quicker, less stressful journey ahead of you when you have a partner who can give you the roadmap on how to reach your goal. Check out our career coaching services to learn how we can help you advance your career.
Everyone has bad days at work, but if your bad day stretches to a hundred bad days(!) then you may want to start thinking about reinventing your career.
Twice during my own career I found myself in a frustrating and unchallenging job and stayed longer than I should have. Mostly because I was delusional and thought that if I proved my loyalty and stayed with the company long enough they’d reward me with a “new and improved” job, (did I mention the delusional part?), but also because I was afraid of trying something new, and potentially failing.
If you’re in a similar situation and the thought of charting into unknown career territory makes you want to curl up under your office cube, then you may want to try what I’m calling ”career sampling” – the art of dipping your toe into a pool of new career opportunities, before diving in head first.
Career sampling is a great way to test drive a new career without investing a lot of time, or risking your paycheck. Here are five great strategies to help you determine if a new career is right for you…
- Take on an extended assignment.
Look across all the departments within your current organization to see if there are any projects or teams that interest you. Many times managers and project leaders jump at the chance to have someone join their team – even if that person doesn’t have any experience. This is a great way to test the waters of a new career.
Also, are there any external initiatives that inspire you? Many companies have community programs and special events that you may be able to support. Finally, talk to your manager, peers and other department managers to see which professional and civic organizations they’re involved in. Take advantage of opportunities that could help you learn about new industries or job roles.
- Try freelancing or consulting. If you’re thinking about owning your own business, try setting up shop first as a freelancer or consultant. You’ll be able to set your own hours, develop your business plan and gain some experience before investing all of your time, money and energy full time. It’s also a great way to earn some extra cash!
- Work part-time. A great way to test drive a new job role, company or industry is to start out part time. Investing a little time up front to take on a part-time position is a much better strategy than investing all your time and realizing you’ve made a bad career choice.If you think you don’t have the right experience, a great attitude and eagerness to learn can help get your foot in the door. And once you start proving yourself and showing results, a promotion to a full time position could be just around the corner!
- Volunteer your time. This is the quickest way to gain insight and experience into a new career. As your Career Coach, I encourage you to research company websites, read trade magazines, and attend industry conferencs and business networking events to learn about volunteer opportunities. Volunteer your time and talents, and in return, learn all you can about that industry, different job roles, and the skills and qualifications of others who have been successful in those job roles that interest you.
- Join a Professional Organization. Most cities have organizations such as the American Marketing Association, American Medical Association, Small Business Association, American Society for Engineering Education, etc. which provide excellent education, training and networking opportunities.Consider attending meetings, becoming a member, or stepping up to join their Board of Directors. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about various industries and career opportunities.
If you’re itching to change your career for something more meaningful or inspiring, then try career sampling. It’s less risky, less stressful, and a smarter way to transition into a career that’s right for you!
And finally…If you’re ready to make a career change, get some professional help. You’ll have an easier, quicker, less stressful journey ahead of you when you have a partner who can give you the roadmap on how to reach your goal.
Here’s to your success!
- When to Ask a Career Expert for Help (money.usnews.com)