“Networking” is that fragile web of connections you have with other people and volunteering can strengthen that web in several ways. Here are some of the advantages a voluntary approach to networking can add to your career:
Maintaining activity through volunteer work in your fieldkeeps you in contact with potential employers and co-workers. When an opening comes up, they remember meeting you at several events. They also remember what you were like to work with! Staying active is good for you too, because it keeps you in the habit of productivity.
Common wisdom suggests that when you have found a new job you quit hunting for a new one.This is a mistake that the vast majority of professionals make and it’s one that is typically detrimental to their careers. Constantly looking for new opportunities not only keeps you current with what positions are available, it also keeps you fresh in your current position.
Continuing to search for a new position isn’t necessarily an active pursuit. When you are reasonably happy in your current position and not really looking to change either your career or your employer, job search takes on a more passive role. Much of what you do during an active job search is ignored, such as cold calling, applications and interviewing. In a passive job search you keep your resume updated and you occasionally examine what is open in your field.
Many people know that networking is important to their careers, but few understand how to effectively use their networking contacts when looking for a new job.Networking isn’t difficult, but is necessary, as it can be a very important tool in your job search strategy.
When you are actively looking for a new job, it’s always important to be dressed appropriately, use proper etiquette, and mingle comfortably at professional gatherings and events. Keep business cards with you and ensure that your contact information is always current. If you click with someone and they ask you to give them a call to follow-up to discuss a potential, be sure you do so within 1-2 business days.
Networking is one of those activities that gets shelved because you are busy. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those activities that needs to be consistent in order to do any good to your career. This is because the nature of networking is relationships, and if you only connect with people when you need them, you are viewed in a negative light. You also miss out on a lot of positive things when you don’t connect, so it’s a good idea to put it on your schedule.
Connie lost her Director-level job in the high-tech industry and is looking for another executive-level position. These positions are high-risk positions to fill for any company (lots of money and power involved--repercussions from decisions made by this person can last a long time). Check out Connie's story about how she used the promise of a 90 to 180-Day Plan to make a nervous, unsure hiring manager excited to interview her, and much more open to the idea of hiring her:
I've been using all of your tools since I lost my job 4 weeks ago. I found you by following a link on LinkedIn; your program looked like exactly what I needed to launch my search.
By way of context, I'm in the high tech industry, specifically in outsourcing. My last position was at the director level but the company was relatively small, an EMS company with about $60M USD in revenue. It was a mistake going there in the first place as I am much better suited to large global companies. I'm armed with an MBA in International business, several languages, and 20 years of experience in strategic sourcing.
One of my LinkedIn connections knows the hiring manager at a large global OEM struggling to rationalize outsourcing across 60 countries; they need someone with my exact skill set including fluency in German. Imagine that!
The hiring manager, VP Operations, called me today (bypassing HR:). Luckily he was already pre-sold on me and had obtained executive approval to create a position in Global Sourcing. We spoke for a few minutes but it was clear that he was not sure exactly what he is looking for. He was only able to outline the little he knows about the challenge. He's new to his position as well and sounded nervous about the high visibility "my" position would have (big risk). And he was unsure how to proceed. He said "I guess we should meet so you can take me through your resume, what do you think?"
SO...I said "How about this; sure I'll take you through my background so you can see how I've been successful in similar roles in the past. Then, why don't I show you a brief powerpoint presentation outlining how I will approach this position in the first 3-6 months so that you see my thought process and what you can expect?" His response was "Are you serious? Wow, that would be fantastic! Is it ok with you if I invite a few other executives?"
I will let you know how this works out! I'm so excited and very very glad I followed all aspects of your program.
Did you know that introverts can be great networkers? They just go about networking in a different mode than the extrovert, and since a lot of the advice you see on networking for your career seems to be geared toward those extroverts, the combination of introvert/networking has to be redefined.
Search Engine Journal usually is a site visited by marketers and webmasters, those interested in tech-savvy networking of the internet kind. But a recent article by Mindy Weinstein looks at 5 Networking Tips for the Tech-Savvy and Introverted, because even internet gurus have to do interpersonal networking for their career.
For a great job search and continuing career opportunities, you need to build and maintain a good network--but many people don't know how to do this well.
Here are 4 keys to give you have the kind of professional network that will serve you well in your job search and career:
1. Contact your current contacts.
When's the last time you gathered up a list of all the people you know and have met in your work life? I bet the number of people you know would surprise you. Now--how many of those would you feel comfortable contacting for a job lead? Probably not so many. The key to being able to tap this resource (your network) when you need it is to nourish it when you don't. Here's how:
If I were 22 again, I periodically wonder, how would my life be different because I know how to Network, Give & Dream?
Despite myself, the choices I made and life activities I got involved in, I did pretty good getting to where I am today.
There are three very specific insights I now have that I wish I would have known and better yet, fully understood as I walked off that stage. I’ll share them with you so that you may find them useful or discover your own insights that can be beneficial to you in your journey through life.
Insight # 1 - Build strong positive networks of people in your life
Queen Latifah said,”Look at people for an example, but then make sure to do things your way. Surround yourself with positive people.”
Colin Powell said, "Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”
Do you let your networks of people overlap? You should.
In most of our lives there are three unique networks of people.
Your Friends and Family is one such network. These are the people who are generally the closest to you. These people are the people who hopefully trust, respect and care for you the most.
Your CommunityConnections is the second network of people in your life. These are people in the schools, charities, civic groups and churches you attend or visit. Your neighbors can be members of this network as well.
Your Business Connections is the third unique and important network of people. This includes your fellow employees, business partners and customers. Your mechanic, plumber and hairstylist could be members of this network.
Individually these networks can help in your life, community, career and business. When you let these networks organically overlap, the benefits become far more rewarding.
You can only reap the benefits of networking if you put forth deliberate effort with focus.
Deliberate means "doing something consciously and intentionally.” Focus means to "pay particular attention to.”
Often when people head off to networking events they do so believing they are there to find a new business opportunity, leads, referrals or a job. Even though this could be their primary purpose in life, career, business or community, it’s not the primary purpose of networking.
Being focused on your primary purpose while networking is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. It could be there, but the likelihood of finding it is minuscule and it’s a waste of time.
Expanding your LinkedIn network is a great way to discover new business and/or career opportunities.
I am a true believer that our networks of people, including our LinkedIn network is one of the most important assets we have in life. My career and business have been significantly influenced by my diverse networks of people.
For these reasons I encourage you to work hard and deliberately to expand your LinkedIn network. However, I want you to do this work the right way.
It’s rather easy to connect with people who you know, who you have worked with or for. It’s real easy to connect with people you meet in real life, especially once you get their email address.
However, sometimes we’ll find another LinkedIn member that we don’t know who we want to connect with. We don’t know them, have not worked with them or for them and don’t know their email address, yet we still want to connect with them because of what they do or where they work.
Most people will use the LinkedIn Introduction function. LinkedIn permits up to 10 open Introductions at a time.
However, I prefer not to use this feature because it does not allow me to:
Determine the relationship between the two LinkedIn members
Control the introduction process
For this reason I prefer to use my own unique process to get introduced:
If you build your network properly, it can become one of your most valuable assets.
A car can be replaced, computers are just commodity items, cell phones get replaced every two years and even your house is replaceable, ask your insurance agent.
Your network is built one person and relationship at a time. You can’t borrow someone else’s network, you can’t pick up a new network at the local big box store, and I doubt Lloyds of London will insure your network.
A dying network cannot help you, nor the people in your network. A dying network is almost always terminal. Few people have been able to revive a dying network.
Therefore you need to do everything you can to make sure your network thrives so that it never dies.
Here are five activities that if executed properly will help your network to thrive.
You likely have two specific networks in your life. The first of these networks is your In Real Life (IRL) network. The second is your Virtual social networks, unless you are not using social media.
Growing these individual networks and allowing them to organically overlap, where relevant and possible, can amplify your successes in life, career and business.
Whether in real life or on social media, consistently expanding your network will provide significant value. However, you can't ask people who don’t know you to connect. This is unacceptable and often will fail. So how do we grow our connections beyond the people we know today.
It’s really quite easy. Here are three ideas that work well: