In The Company You Keep
Networking for Success
Though you may not be aware of it, there is one thing you are probably doing on a daily basis that is very important to setting your career path. You do it every time you make a new friend, mingle at a party, or attend any social event. And no, it’s not just lining up your next date. You are networking, and it can greatly improve your chances of staying ahead of the curve in a very competitive job market.
Here’s some food for thought: according to Harvard Business School, between 65% to 85% of all jobs are filled by someone who knows someone else. And since the vast majority of jobs are not advertised, having a good network and the skills to maintain it can be essential in increasing your chances of making that curve work for you. Here are some tips on how to network for success.
Your Father’s Brother’s Nephew’s Cousin’s Roommate
A recent survey of more than 1500 successful job hunters shows that 63% found new positions by tapping their networks of friends, family members, acquaintances, clubs and organizations. So, if your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s roommate knows someone who’s hiring, that’s a contact. Your network will be a natural outgrowth of who you currently know, so start working with what you have. Your school might also have an alumni career network worth looking into. Another important part of networking is that it’s also about connecting with other networks. Connect those dots and see where they lead because it can be more powerful than you think.
Create the daily habit of reaching out to at least 3 connections every day, even if it’s just to say, “do you know anyone I might talk to in the xyz business for some advice?” The months before graduation can be crazy, but devoting at least 15 or 20 minutes to your network each day can really pay off. Always remember, the best time to reach most executives by phone is early (before 8 am) and late (after 5:30 pm). Although later might actually be better since calling first thing in the morning may get you caught up in the avalanche of calls they probably face every morning. It’s good to be persistent but not someone lost in the rabble.
Reach & Request
Once you have established your network you want to keep in touch with it regularly, even if it’s just a brief email to check in and say hello. All the contacts in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t actually stay in contact with them. For example, Los Angeles-area resident Terri Garfinkel e-mailed past employers after she was laid off from her job at a high-end retail bakery, telling them she was looking for a new position. She eventually was able to land a job with someone she had worked with a decade ago, whom she had always stayed in touch with. It may sound like a no brainer, but people are more willing to help you if they know you and know what you are looking for. Asking for what you want can be intimidating at first, but you’ll never get it if you don’t.
Pay It Forward
Focus on the needs of other people and what they are looking for. Networking is a two-way street, after all. So, if you find an interesting article, link or job posting, be sure to share it. That’s not to say you need to become the human Siri of your network, but reciprocity is always appreciated. And you will begin to establish yourself as someone who is interested in their field and on top of their game. A good rule of thumb to remember is, as in life, you will get back what you put out.
What’s the 411?
In this day and age, social media and online networking are becoming the norm. However, when it comes down to it, there is no substitute for good old fashioned human contact. That’s why the best way to expand your network is by attending actual networking events. Fortunately for you, Washington is filled with them. Some good ones to attend are:
- MBA Power Lunch on May 28th
- Selling Professional’s Bill of Rights on May 31st
- DC Symposium on June 4th
Some events are open to the public, while some may require a ticket. Be sure to read up on any event that might be of interest to you before going to get the full details. Also be sure to check out our latest Things To Do list for upcoming events happening in DC this week and next. You never know when a great networking opportunity may present itself.
Networking can be scary and a bit intimidating when you are just starting out. But approaching it as naturally as possible can help ease the nerves a bit, especially once you realize that at the end of the day, all you’re really doing is just meeting people. Be professional, be confident, and most importantly be yourself. Build out your network and let it work for you; because often times it’s not what you know, but who you know
Build a network that speaks to your true goals and with people you not only admire, but who are good influences in many different ways. Because according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people change jobs fairly often, about every 5 years. But if you do it well, your network will be around for a lifetime. And the company you keep can make all the difference in the world.