Thursday, May 22, 2008
Do you want to build a network that works for you? Who wouldn’t?
In past articles, I’ve talked about mass network strategies, about how to build a large database of names through social networks. But I’ve also said that I use a dual approach of large and small networks. In addition to spending time building a network of size, I work with a subset to build a network of quality.
These are my go-to people, people who will gladly introduce me or help me if I need to ask. No there aren’t 10M of them. But every one of them has a commonality. I’ve helped this group first.
I call this Networking Karma, and it works beautifully in face to face networking, as well as online networking. There’s nothing that turns a loose connection into someone willing to spend time, effort, energy, and reputation to help you faster than Networking Karma.
Many readers of this blog were people I met face to face at networking events, who experienced Networking Karma first hand. When I meet someone at a networking event, and am asked what I do, I often answer “I help people for a living”. This nearly always get a response like “Sure…what do you really do?”. That gives me the opportunity to reply “Why not tell me what you do, and I’ll show you how I might help you?”
This exchange does a few things…First, I truly am at networking events to find people I can help – not find clients (sure, I’ve found a few this way). I look to help people connect to others, to refer someone, to help others get to the contacts and resources they need to thrive. If I’m given the opportunity to help someone, it’s rarely forgotten, and I’ve just made a new friend.
This exchange also helps me to listen. I’m best able to listen when I turn the conversation to the other person, inviting them to talk about themselves, their business, their job, and their goals and challenges. I find that after I’ve heard another persons’ story, I’m often able to ask them about what they’ve left out (sometimes it’s their goals, their challenges, or to describe two people they’d really like to meet in the next 30-60 days).
At the end of this exchange, after the other person has had plenty of time to describe themselves, I suggest how I might help them, and add that my hobby is Career Coaching, and authoring this blog. If the other person asks who they might help me, I suggest they refer people considering job change to my blog. It’s free, it gives innovative job search information, and there’s no pressure to buy anything.
A job seeker can make this effective also. Go to networking events with a different goal in mind than looking for a job. If you recall my earlier article Would You Stop Looking For A Job Already?, I wrote how job seekers are more effective if they stop searching for a job, and start searching for problems to solve. Networking works the same way. If you search for problems you can solve at networking events, you do more than collect cards, you build a fan base.
And when you ask how you can help someone, you are searching for problems you can solve, even if your solution is referring someone to solve that problem. This type of referral not only wins you fans, but instantly builds your trustworthiness in the eyes of others. Try it at your next networking event, and see how it works.
But how can you make this work for online networking? When I send an initial email to someone I wish to connect with, I ask “How can I connect you to people you’d like to reach?” My profile on LinkedIN and Facebook starts with “I’m a professional at helping. How can I help you?”, long before I describe my business. Why do I start this way? Because I’m looking for people to help.
Along the way, sometimes through people kind enough to refer me or point a career changer to this blog, the right clients find me. These are job seekers who believe in the job search strategies that I teach, and who want help. I don’t want thousands of clients, because reCareered is set up to work personally with the clients I serve. I want to work with fans.
As a career changer, how can you adopt Networking Karma to your job search? Same way…build a fan base, by helping people, connecting people, referring people. Don’t be surprised if good things start to happen. Not overnight, but how often does the perfect job materialize overnight? Now along the way, make sure your fans know you’re in career transition, and have seen your online profiles, ResuBlog, and online portfolio. I do this through my email signature block, and by referencing my online presence on LinkedIN, Facebook, and this Blog.
In future articles, I’ll feature interviews with experts in Networking Karma, to give you their take on how to best use networking to accelerate your job search.
Thanks for reading…..How can I help you today?
Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (phil.reCareered@gmail.com), and we'll schedule a time to talk.
Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to phil.reCareered@gmail.com to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".
Networking Mistakes - Don't be THAT GUY at your holiday party
Other articles about personal networking
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