5 Turn Detour, Turn 3: Networking

I saw a post on LinkedIn yesterday which was really quite depressing, someone mentioned that they applied to hundreds of jobs in the past 6 months with not 1 interview. Someone commented a possible reason is the automated filtering taking place on job boards. If you aren’t a “perfect” fit based on predetermined criteria the hiring manager doesn’t even see your resume.

I’ve looked at (and applied for) a few jobs through LinkedIn and when I see 489 applicants the first thing I think is “Why bother??”

There has to be a better way!

Did you know 85% of people hired today are not found through job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn and Workopolis, because according to a BusinessInsider article 70-80% of jobs are not even posted.

By now you’ve figured out networking is the best way to find your next gig.

When people think of great networkers they think of people who can “work a room” or are the “life of the party” – the extroverts. There is no question that being an extrovert can be an asset when in a group setting or at one of those “Power Hour” networking meetings where you speed date possible connections.

For the purpose of our time together today I’m going to refine the definition of Networking. I’m talking about 1:1 networking, the kind of connections that are personal and lead to mutual benefit. In this scenario everyone can be a great networker with a little practice.

Below are some tips fo becoming a great networker.

Have your preparation done.

If you missed the first 2 posts of the 5 Turn Detour go back and review them now. Being prepared to answer the basic questions and share impactful stories is the foundation of a good networking meeting.

Being prepared will go a long way to a successful meeting and shows the other person you value their time. After all, you are going to ask them for something right? Which leads us to…

Ensure there is a mutual exchange of value.

You’ve managed to get someone to give you 20-30 minutes of their most valuable resource, time. You need to ensure you are providing value as well, it’s one of the six principles of influence called reciprocation. You need to give to get so know their business, look at their job board, know the role of the person you are meeting with. You may know someone in your network who can help them or their business. Offer to do an intro, ask them if there is anything you can help them with.

This allows you to ask them for their help, to get you connected with people who may benefit from your skills or experience. After all, wouldn’t you refer someone who just helped you out?

Build your brand.

You are out there selling yourself now, your brand. Your brand is what people are buying when they agree to meet with you. Don’t miss or skip a networking meeting, this is the fastest way to destroy your personal brand. Make sure you send meeting invites to people with clear agendas. Again, you are being trusted with their time, be respectful of that.

Things like personal business cards are also important. Spend $20 and get some made up for you, it takes about a week and is well worth it.

Flex your networking muscle.

My 11 year old son plays rep baseball. This off season the team is doing CrossFit to help them build core and overall body strength. They have a coach that walks them through the exercises and makes sure they are doing them properly so they avoid injury.

You can do the same thing, hire a networking coach who can work with you on your approach and ensure you are doing things properly and avoiding critical mistakes. Then you can hit the networking circuit and know you are doing things well.

Finally, don’t spin your wheels.

Just like a great sales professional has an ideal prospect profile you need to know who you need to be networking with. Know who is likely to be your boss, or who can connect with your future boss. If your dream job is a Director role you need to meet with VPs, if you want to be a VP you need to meet with SVP or C-level contact.

This doesn’t mean avoid other levels as they can connect you with these people, just know very specifically who your ideal networking connection is.

Now get out there and have some fun. The people you are about to meet are going to have a huge impact on your future so treat them well and respect their time. Treat every meeting like you are meeting your next boss or customer!

Finally, the hirer up in the org you are targeting the harder it will be to connect with them. I worked for 6 weeks to get a meeting with one EVP and it paid off in spades. Be persistent without being a pest, reach out once a week with a phone call or email and it will pay off.

Now, go get em!

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