Don’t Waste Your Time Networking – Instead Build Relationships

Career Coaching 360 Coaches







The goal of networking is NOT to start asking someone about job opportunities. The goal of networking is to build a relationship with someone. 

It takes two things to be successful in your career: 1) doing high quality work; and 2) having positive relationships with the right people.  The right people will help you get hired, promoted and introduce you to others who could potentially hire you, as well as give you a continuous supply of job leads, referrals and recommendations.

Whether you’re employed or not, it’s impossible to have a successful career without the support of others.  So how can you build strong supportive relationships with others? Here are a few key strategies that can help –

  1. Show an interest in them

Let’s say that you have an upcoming meeting, conference or a professional networking event.  Look at the agenda and ask yourself, “Who would I like to meet?” Maybe it’s someone you’ve never met, or maybe it’s someone already in your professional network.

Plan ahead and think about a topic that you think might interest them such as a new product launch in their division, or how you’ve applied one of their teachings that you read about, or perhaps offer them an idea you have on a challenge they are currently facing.  The point is to keep the conversation focused on that person (it’s not about you! -at least not yet!)

2.  Listen more than you talk

You connect with someone by being genuinely interested in him or her.  While you’re establishing relationships, you’ll want to listen more than you talk. This is worth repeating – you need to LISTEN more than you TALK 🙂  So to keep the focus on them, you’ll need to ask some good questions like, “How’s that big project going that you’re working on?” or “How is the new product doing that your company just launched?”

If it’s the first time you’ve ever met, then you don’t need to have a long, in-depth conversation. Instead, when you feel that the conversation has run its course, simply say, “I’d love to stay in touch – do you want to exchange business cards?” Or, “I can send you an article I just read on that very same topic.  Would you like me to forward it to you?”

The point is that you want to connect with your contact and do so in a way that is genuine, authentic and shows an interest in what they are doing.

3. Be a resource for them

As a leading Career Coach, I’ve noticed that many professionals make the mistake of sending a message to others that shouts, ” I need a job!!” The message is all about them, and not about the other person.  It’s a one-way relationship, instead of a two-way relationship.  It’s very selfish.  Who wants to be in a relationship like that?

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!

Send out personalized notes and e-mails to your network with links to industry news, reports, case studies, press releases, videos, or cool websites that you think may interest them. Volunteer to write recommendation letters, and introduce them to others in your network. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to movers and shakers that you know. Be proactive and offer to connect them to others in your network that may help them solve a problem, offer advice, or potentially advance their career.

One thing that works really well for me, is offering to share my resources, tips, and lessons learned that may help them in some way. I’ve found that doing this provides the foundation for a long-term relationship. Also, one of the key benefits of building a connection and being a key resource to others is that you are more likely to receive career support from them including job leads, personal recommendations and referrals. 🙂


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LISTfor personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at

Was this the year you were going to make a career change?


One year from now, do you want to be doing the exact same kind of work you’re doing today?

If not, then there are a few things you need to START doing, and a few things to STOP doing…

  1. Stop going with the flow.

    Stop working on mundane projects you can do in your sleep. Part of the reason you’re feeling under-utilized and under-valued is because you’re under-challenged. We weren’t meant to take a job and then stay there forever. We’re meant to stretch, develop, grow, bounce. Look for ways to step up and flex your professional muscles. When you stop learning and growing, your career will stall.

  2. Stop taking setbacks personally.

    Everyone experiences career setbacks. Everyone! If you’ve been a victim of a layoff, a demotion, a project that failed or didn’t get accepted then get over it! Hanging on to feelings of rejection, embarrassment or anger isn’t helping you. You only think other people care about your setback, but seriously, they’ve moved on and you need to, too. It’s not the setback itself that is holding you back, but how you’re internalizing it.

  3. Stop being “small.”

    If you think that being humble and shy will help you be successful, think again. When somebody offers you a big juicy project or a spot on a high profile team – grab it! Saying things like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’d be the best choice for that,” or, “I don’t know if I have the right experience to do that” will keep you sitting on the bench. You’ve got to step up, be bold and put yourself out there (especially if the new opportunity scares you!) Yes, finding new opportunities means taking risks – big bold risks that you won’t be able to take if you’re playing it small.

And here are a few things you’ll need to start doing…

  1.  Start talking about what you want to do.

    Start describing the types of responsibilities and the kinds of projects and teams you want to work on. If you don’t have a crystal clear vision, then at least start talking about the type of work you enjoy doing. By simply having these conversations with your manager, colleagues, and those in your network can lead to new career paths and opportunities.

  2. Start claiming your space.

    Put your expertise out there by showing others you have something to say through presentations, articles, coaching others and speaking up in meetings. Don’t be a shrinking violet, but instead, have confidence, be bold and voice your technical opinion. So what if someone may not agree with you – that just makes it a more interesting conversation. Successful executives and professionals constantly put themselves “out there” – that’s why they’re successful. Don’t shy away or back up, but instead step up, speak out and claim your space at the table.

  3. Start charting your course.

    Go find people working in different industries and job roles. Ask them about their responsibilities, education, training, challenges and career paths. Get connected to those who inspire you. Give yourself permission and time to explore all possibilities. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept every opportunity that comes your way, but you at least owe it to yourself to learn what else is out there so that you can get ready for your next career move.

Successful professionals aren’t successful because they let things “happen.”  Instead, they make things happen in their career.  They figure out what they want, take some risks, stretch, grow, fall down, learn and bounce.  Don’t let someone else take the wheel on your career path.  Step up and make things happen.  It’s your career and your year! 🙂


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LISTfor personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback” also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at


Is Changing Your Career Worth the Risk?

Everyone has a few bad days and a certain level of frustration in their career, but when is too much too much?

The answer is when it starts consuming you.  When the voice inside your head tells you 20 times a day, “I need a new job!”

I had been working as a Marketing Manager at a Fortune 100 company for two years when the voice started consuming me. First it started telling me, then demanding, and then screaming at me at the top of its lungs, “I need a new job!”  The trouble was that I loved my job role and responsibilities.  The work was challenging, meaningful and just plain fun!  So what was the problem? My manager.  He was a putz.

Secretly in my mind I had nicknamed him Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.  I tried to block him out and just focus on doing my work but he slowly, methodically began completely sucking the life out of me.  So after two years, 24 loooong months, with the voice pounding in my head getting louder and louder, I reluctantly came to the realization that I needed to change jobs.

But changing jobs is hard.  Incredibly hard.  Every time I thought about switching careers my heart started pounding faster and my forehead started sweating. I was faced with all kinds of fear including fear of change, fear of failure, fear of self-doubt, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, etc.  I kept thinking, Should I stay in my job where it’s safe and be miserable, or change my career and potentially fail? What if I can’t get another job? What if my new manager is worse than my current manager?

After doing some deep soul searching, and downing about 5 gallons of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, I decided that life is way too short to work for someone who doesn’t appreciate and value me.  And so I began my job search looking for internal jobs.  Within 8 weeks I was interviewed for two job openings and during those interviews I asked questions about the manager’s management style, how they kept their teams motivated, and what were some of their teams’ successes that they were most proud of.  Yes, I actually interviewed the hiring managers.

One of the managers said that his strength was “nurturing his team members to bring out their best.” As he said those words my heart started pounding faster.  I knew I liked this guy.  He offered me the job and it turned out to be one of the best career moves I ever made.  My new manager helped me strengthen my leadership skills, learn new technical skills, and gave me a promotion with a 30% raise.

Is it worth the risk?

I would have never found my new manager if I hand't jumped ship and taken the risk for something better. Yes, there’s risk in any job change. But in today's struggling economy, isn’t there also risk if you stay in a job? Who’s to say you’ll still be employed in your same job tomorrow? Organizations are going bankrupt, companies are downsizing and executives seem to be in a continuous loop of job rotations like they’re playing musical chairs.

Bottom line: if you feel like you’re stuck in a bad job with questionable job security – then why stay? 

Ask yourself – Why does the risk of staying in a frustrating job outweigh the risk of trying for something better…?


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of “The Bounce Back” and “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.  You can download the three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at


How a Finance Guru got Four (4) Job Offers in just 3 weeks After Being Laid Off

Whether you want a new career because you’ve been laid off or because you’re ready to leave frustrating and unsatisfying job, there is one key skill that will be critical to your success – your ability to be a rainmaker for your own career and create job offers and opportunities.

I love that Chris Rock says, Being rich has nothing to do with money. It has to do with having opportunities.

My good friend Cindy Hoyme is the poster girl for creating opportunities!  She had been a rock star in the financial industry for 30 years, when 8 months ago her boss brusquely told her that her job had been eliminated due to the down economy. Suddenly unemployed, and the main bread winner for her family with a daughter in college – she had to find a new job FAST! In my new book, The Bounce Back, Cindy reveals how she networked her buns off to receive a remarkable four job offers in three weeks!

Here’s an excerpt from Cindy’s story…

“After 30 years in the financial business and many job changes due to better opportunities, I was faced with a sudden job loss. I felt abandoned by the person who had hired me and I had been working with for 10 years. With a daughter in college and financial obligations, I needed a new job and needed one fast. I had not updated my resume in years, nor had I kept up with my networking.

Waiting was not an option for me. I updated my resume and then contacted everyone I knew that had called me when they were seeking employment. I set a goal to have one appointment a day. I set up 21 appointments in three weeks, getting to know every Starbucks in town. I kept a normal schedule and did not hesitate to call almost anyone.”

Cindy goes on to talk about a variety of strategies she used to get reacquainted with past colleagues, managers and clients, which in turn, helped her land appointments, interviews and eventually four potential job offers.

“The interviewing and job seeking process is much different now than it was 10 years ago. It wasn’t shopping my resume on the Internet that got me my next job, but instead it was by word of mouth. In my industry talking to people and getting connected is still the way to secure good positions.

Thanks to developing and expanding my large network, I had four potential job offers that came together around the same time. I did not want to take the first offer but, instead, evaluated what I really wanted in my next career and what kind of people I wanted to work for. With the power of prayer and lots of good friends and acquaintances, I landed on my feet with a great company. I feel grateful and very fortunate, especially in this job market, for my new career. During the transition, I also researched and looked into certifications to pursue a second income in the future which now is a possibility.”

What I love about Cindy’s story is that she learned how to be a rainmaker for her own career.  She didn’t sit back and wait for job openings to pop up online.  Instead, she fast tracked her job search by going straight to her professional community asking for job leads, referrals and recommendations. Not only did she receive four job offers in just three weeks, but now she’s proactively creating opportunities to help secure her new job, and her future!


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of “The Bounce Back” and “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.  You can download the three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at

Would you leave your safe job for the chance at something better?

Where’s the point that you would stop settling for an average or mediocre career, and put it all on the line for a chance at something better?

Rich Dubek found his tipping point after spending 20 years working in television as an award winning reporter in Phoenix. He talked about the frustration he had, the risks he took and the strategies he put in place to set himself up for success in the next chapter of his career in my new book, The Bounce Back.  Here’s an excerpt from Rich’s story…

“I had been a successful, two-time Emmy award winning Senior News Reporter for many years at a local NBC television affiliate. I loved my job, and I had recently broken some major national stories, exceeding all the lofty goals set by my employer. But I had worked long hours under the most stressful of circumstances as I continued to “pay my dues,” sacrificing time with my family in the process.

After 15 years with the same TV station, I set my sights on a new goal – to move from being a TV news reporter, into a TV news anchor. In the rapidly changing media world I knew news reporters were getting younger and cheaper, while being asking to do much more for less. In addition, the bottom line – not the quality of work as a reporting journalist – was rapidly becoming the priority for TV news management and this didn’t match with my personal values or ambition.

I was on top of my game when my employer wanted me to sign a new 3-year contract. I only asked my employer for one thing: The opportunity to advance my career with fill-in anchor opportunities in addition to my reporting duties. They offered me a pay increase but clearly stated I would not have the opportunity to anchor.

I realized that I needed to assess my long-term goals. Did I want to lock myself into a job I already had mastered for three more years, with no option to branch out and learn new skills? Was it worth missing out on my wife and teenage sons’ life events such as holidays, basketball games and band gigs?

If I left the TV station, what would I do? Go to another TV station where I might get a better opportunity but more likely would be stuck in the same industry with the same standards and demanding work schedules? Or do something entirely different?

A couple of things were clear: I really enjoyed telling stories, producing videos, and helping people become better communicators, and I had built a successful career doing these things. I didn’t want to move to a completely new career, I just wanted to apply my skills in a different way. I had also heard about the freelance media world, where “news people” could continue to work in the business but on their own terms. This sounded appealing. After my assessment of the situation, and a long talk with my wife (whose support was and still is critical to my success), I knew it was time for me to take the leap of faith. I decided to walk away from my successful job and paycheck and go out on my own.”

Rich goes on to tell about how he made the decision to quit his job, and the strategies that he put in place to set himself up for success as he ventured out to start his own successful business, AZ Freelance TV.   He talks about how making a decision about changing careers isn’t just about a new job, but that it’s also considering factors such as lifestyle, family, independence and self-management, as well as income and benefits.

Just because you get hired in a job, doesn’t mean that you have to stay there forever. Your drive and passion can change over time, and with that, may come the need to change your career. Career changes are hard, but the key lesson out of Rich Dubek’s story is that when you plan ahead, mitigate the risks and set yourself up for success – you actually can have it all!


Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of “The Bounce Back” and “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.  You can download the three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at

Do you keep saying to yourself, “I need a new job!”

Do you keep telling yourself, “I need a new job!”
Are you thinking it every day?

Do you dream of starting a fresh, new career where people appreciate you? Where you can focus on your strengths and talents, and be valued for your expertise? Or maybe reinventing yourself into an entirely new job role or industry where you’re doing something more meaningful and inspiring?

Maybe you’ve been pushing away that thought because it seems impossible, or overwhelming, or maybe because you simply don’t know how to change your career?

But what if you can no longer silence the dream? When that voice keeps coming back to you, louder and stronger, saying “I need a new job!”, and no matter how many times you push it out of your mind it keeps coming back. What do you do then?

The reason so many people stay in unmotivating and unfulfilling jobs is because it’s easy to do. It’s familiar, it takes minimal effort, it’s easy to blank out and be a zombie for 8 hours a day, and there’s comfort in knowing you’re getting the bills paid.

It’s easy because there’s minimal risk and minimal effort. But there’s also minimal reward. Doing drudgery work actually drains us of energy, makes us cranky and lowers our quality of life. Do you think that if you’re energized about doing work that excites you, that you’ll be making more significant contributions, and therefore, have more opportunities for promotions, advancement and a higher quality of life?

Earlier in my career, I made the mistake of believing that if someone hired me, then that was where I was meant to be. BIG mistake!! Later in my career, I learned that I need to set the bar higher for myself. I learned that jumping into a new, and sometimes scary, career was worth the risk. I also learned how to create more options and how to make better decisions about where I work and who I work for.

I fully believe that life is way too short to stay in a meaningless job where you’re unfulfilled, unchallenged and under-valued. I’ve had a few of those jobs myself and I remember waking up every morning and dreading going into work. During those times, the highlight of my day was usually having lunch with a few close colleagues. If the highlight of your day is eating lunch – then it’s time to make a career change.

I’ve reinvented myself four (4) times and each time, I successfully landed in my dream career! For me, I tend to stay in a career 4-5 years, and then through natural curiosity (or ADD? ;)) I tend to want to jump into another job role or industry. And each one of my career changes started out the same way – by allowing myself to dream about career possibilities and then creating one clear vision.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT… Give your dream a shout out!!  Tell the universe your career dream by writing it down (you can even write it down below in the “comments section.”  

Once you write it down, you’ll be well on your way to making it a reality! 🙂