Today’s big idea is that the way that you navigate times of transition and land a better job than you currently have is with the help of your network. Let’s talk about what a network is, who has a network, how to grow and strengthen yours, and networking your ay
Listen to the Podcast Here
Your network is like an invisible web–it can catch you when you fall, like the one under a trapeze, or it can airlift you to a higher place, like the basket of a hot air balloon. CNBC reports that up to 80% of jobs are filled by networking–and that up to 70% of jobs are never even listed anywhere publicly. It really is who you know.
Now, before you try to tell yourself that you do NOT have a network, or don’t have access to one because of any number of reasons, know this: You do NOT have to be well connected or have a fancy school in the education section of your resume to have a healthy network. You can be an introvert. You can be ridiculously busy. And you can be socially awkward. You can be all these things, and still have a network!
I’m going to share a quote (curse word alert!!) from my friend and previous podcast guest Julie Brown, who is a master networker and author of the book, which I helped her write, called “This Sh!t Works.” In it, Julie says:
“Your inner critic will do its best to convince you that you can’t walk into a networking event and work the room, or that people won’t be invested in your success, or that you don’t deserve certain relationships, or that you simply aren’t cut out for this, or that you aren’t worthy of a high level of success. Your inner critic is an asshole and a liar.”
Here are some ways to build your network, as well as what to say to the folks you reach out to
If you are one of the approximately 25 percent of people thinking about switching up your work, now is the time to start reaching out to people you know, and people you don’t know, because it’s highly likely that your next opportunity will initially come to you through the grapevine.
Let’s talk about ways to do that.
First, before you reach out to someone, whether new to you or an already established connection, do a quick bit of research. Look at their LinkedIn profile and their social media accounts to see what they’ve been up to lately. Look for places that you either have in common, or that is intriguing to you because you’ve never done anything like it.
Then, reach out to them. And don’t you dare send an invitation to connect on Linked In without writing a personalized note! That is not a true connection; that is an essentially meaningless notch on your belt.
Here’s what you say:
Hi. I hope the pandemic treated you as well as can be expected.
Then share something that you discovered about them.
I see on FB that you just saw your grandma for the first time since the pandemic. That must have felt good. I’m going to see mine this summer.
Then, get to the point.
Like so many people right now, I’m thinking about how I want to change my work reality. Are you having similar thoughts? Would you be open to scheduling a Zoom coffee date so we can hear about what each other is thinking and see how we might be able to support each other?
Keep it mutual. Networking isn’t a one-way street. They may not have any needs at the moment, and that’s OK; at least you asked. This makes it about maintaining or building a relationship, not performing a transaction.
You may have to follow up once–I like to say, if I haven’t heard back from someone after about a week, hi, I imagine you’re busy, just wanted to bump this back up to the top of your inbox. Would love to connect in whatever way works best for you.
You could even follow up twice, but I wouldn’t pursue past that. Either they’re too busy or too chicken to say, great to hear from you, good luck, no thank you.
You may also be starting to attend live in person events, if not now then in the near future.
I know this can be scary, but meeting in real life is the BEST WAY to forge a connection with someone. You don’t want to be a business card dispensing robot, just go out and be a real person. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re awkward, say, I feel awkward at these things but I love the chance to connect in real life. Beyond that, be authentically curious about others and real about representing yourself. Tell folks you’re thinking about making a change. We’ve all been there, and decent people will want to help.
And if you ever get into a bind, you can always ask an ice breaker, like, been listening to any good podcasts, or watching any great shows? There is no law that says you have to lead off any networking conversation with someone you’ve just met by asking, So, what do you do? In fact, please don’t. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, hates this question.
Reaching out to folks, attending events, having a coffee date here and there takes time, but it pays off, big time.
If you’d like more guidance and inspiration on building a network that can launch you into your next, better job, definitely check out Julie Brown’s book, This Shit Works, and/or her podcast of the same name. You will not be sorry!
Come back tomorrow
When I’m veering a little bit off script to give you a peek inside my podcast business. In case you’re thinking of starting a podcast or other side hustle, I hope that be hearing my realities it will help answer questions you may not even realize you have and give you a bit of a roadmap.