What are your thoughts on networking? Most people do it when they’re out of work, which makes sense. It seems impossible to find the time while employed. Is it worth it? Any advice?
Great lead-off topic for Platinum Unplugged! I chose to start with ‘networking’ because it’s something everyone can benefit from and implement immediately.
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In my 10+ years of recruiting, lack of networking is one of the biggest regrets I hear. It’s often from highly successful people who are busy with careers and family. I think back to a conversation I had with a CPA/MBA making $150k+ (proving this applies even if you’re really good). His employer was acquired and his employment suddenly had a specific end-date attached to it. Guess what? Time to start networking. It makes sense though, right? You make time for it when you need it. Ironically, or not so much, you also have more time for it.
Did you know? You know what I’m told as often as I hear about not networking enough? That once people start reaching out to contacts, they are overwhelmed with how interested and receptive people are to networking. It’s true. People want to help.
What about when you don’t need it immediately? What if you’re happily employed? That’s the perfect time to network!
What sounds better? Negotiating an offer when you’re unemployed and need a job or while you’re employed, can be selective and wait for the right opportunity + right offer?!
5 Networking Tips + 5 Reasons to Network. WHILE Employed:
5 Networking Tips:
- Avoid the Free Booze & Appetizer Networking Events: These might even be part of the reason you’ve stopped networking. You know the ones I’m talking about: They offer free drinks and appetizers. They’re full of real estate agents, financial advisers and probably even recruiters! What’s wrong with these professions? Nothing. I’m one of them. But, if you’re not in a sales or production driven job, these events are a waste of time.
- Start With People You Know: Make a list of people you think highly of and enjoyed working with throughout your career: Former bosses, mentors, colleagues. This is where you start.
- Get in Touch: I separated this from “making a list” b/c reaching out is often the most difficult step. What do you say? What if you haven’t talked to them in a long time? Just do it! If they are on the list you created, they will be open to networking and will love the chance to help if that time ever comes (that’s why you reach out before you’re out of work).
- Set Goals: Maybe it’s 1 networking meeting per month (1 total, not 1 per person). Meet for coffee, lunch or a beer after work. You might meet in-person with each person on your list once or twice per year. But the in-person meetings will increase overall communication frequency and improve the odds of you keeping each other in mind.
- Don’t Be Selfish: Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. A contact, introduction, good book to read. Networking works best when it’s a 2-way street.
5 Reasons to Network WHILE employed
- New Career Opportunities: Many jobs get filled before they are advertised by people currently employed and not looking for a job.
- Self-Improvement: If you’re meeting with former bosses, mentors and colleagues that you think highly of, chances are you’ll pick up knowledge by keeping in touch. Professionally AND personally. Learn a new excel trick, the name of a new book or how a former boss balances career and family.
- Position Yourself to Help Someone: Networking shouldn’t be all about you. If so, you’re doing it wrong.
- Stay Informed: By meeting with people from the list you just created, you’ll be more informed. There are certain things you know because of what you do and who you interact with. Now, think about the people on your list. They know things as well. Growing companies, companies that are hiring, news that an old colleague just took a leadership role with another local company, non-profits looking for board members, organizations that could use volunteers.
- Long-Term Motivations: When you network while employed, you’re doing it for the long-term. You’re doing it for the right reasons, with the right people. People you know and trust. It’s the long-term play. As the saying goes “the best time to look for a job is when you have a job”. Same applies to networking. People that invest time networking while employed have a long-term view of networking and it pays off.
What are you waiting for? Email one of the people on your “List” and set up a coffee meeting. Then…see below to win a $50 Gift Card.
The first person to meet a networking contact b/c you read this or saw the video gets a gift card from Platinum Recruiting.
Pic or it didn’t happen! Must send us a picture of yourself and your contact that we can share on social media.