You have heard over and over again that the key to a successful job search and long-term career advancement is networking. Almost every article touches on this fact. Emphasis is placed on the following fundamentals:
- develop a target list of companies and make contact with employees and, ultimately, hiring managers
- clearly articulate what you would like to do in a job (positioning statement)
- clearly explain why you are looking for your next job (exit statement)
- ask for additional networking names
This is a sound approach but it does not address the secret to networking. But before the secret is revealed, let’s examine the troubles with traditional job search-related networking.
The standard and usually unsuccessful approach to networking focuses on you, the job seeker. After you have been laid off or even if you sense instability in your job and you want to get the word out that you are looking for a new job, you likely will polish off your resume (by the way, a resume is a poor networking tool; instead consider using a one-page biography) and send it out to your contact list. You will say to them that you need help, that you are looking for a job and want to meet with them.
Only your closest connections will agree to meet with you. Many second or third tier connections will not respond to your inquiry. Why? Because you have unknowingly demonstrated a very selfish and egocentric approach and have offered nothing of value. This is an approach that busy power connectors have no time for at all.
Power connectors are defined as highly visible, influential people in your industry community. They write articles, speak at large groups and serve in leadership positions in professional organizations. By nature, they know a lot of people and believe in the power of mutually beneficial relationships. These are the people you must meet.
Meeting new people may be hard for you. Your self-esteem may be low and you feel like you have little to offer. You don’t even know where to start.
Here is here how you begin to network to find your next position. You must create value for the other person through the secret to networking: giving. As counterintuitive as it sounds, when you need the most help, you should concentrate on helping others rather than yourself. Let’s explore this concept in more detail.
The secret to networking, giving
In the book, The Go-Giver, the authors, Bob Burg and John David Mann, outline The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success. It is worthwhile to explore these laws in relationship to networking.
The five laws of stratospheric success
- The Law of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than what you take in payment.
- The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- The Law of Influence – Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
- The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
- The Law of Receptivity – The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
If you choose to apply these laws to career management -related networking, the process can and should be fun and rewarding! You are no longer measuring your success strictly by how many interviews and job offers come your way (though they are important), but by how much value you are creating.
Start networking meetings not by talking about yourself and your situation, but rather by asking questions. Listen more. Create an upbeat aura about your transition – the exploration of your future career path and the great people who you meet along this journey. Ask how you can help.
Focus on helping the other person. This can take many different forms. For example:
- Send them an interesting, pertinent article
- Provide a book recommendation
- Supply networking connections for them
- Supply referrals if they are recruiting for other positions
- Offer to help someone else in their network
- Offer support for personal issues that surface during your conversation
The number of ways that you can give is boundless. You will surely stand out in a crowded market by being a shining example of a mutually beneficial networker.
Of course, ultimately, you are networking to help yourself, too. That is where the fifth law of stratospheric success comes into play. As you focus on giving, you must be open to receiving. After all the giving you are doing, your network will be bending over backwards to help you because it is human nature to help others who have helped you. Be open to receiving help and be clear about the help you are looking for. Ask for help and you will receive it, but only after you have given help. The secret to networking: create value for your network by giving to others.
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Matthew Levy is a well-rounded HR professional and career coach with fifteen years of broad experience in both specialist (e.g., recruiting) and generalist (e.g., HR business partner) roles at blue-chip companies, including Merck, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.
Currently, Matt works full time as a Senior HR Generalist for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development. Prior to J&J, Matt relocated his family to Southern California to take a position with Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, where he led the talent acquisition function for Amgen’s commercial operations and corporate staff groups. Before Amgen, Matt spent several years at Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. There, Matt held a variety of positions in both recruiting and generalist capacities.
In addition to his full time work, Matt founded a career coaching practice, Corner Office Career Coaching. Matt works one-on-one with professionals and executives providing them with customized solutions to their career challenges. As a 20-year corporate HR professional with a large network who has also successfully conducted his own effective, cutting-edge job search, he is well qualified to help others reach their career goals.
Matt graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Business Management from Ithaca College. He is an actively engaged member of several professional organizations including the Philadelphia HR Planning Society where he is on the Board of Directors and the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executives Group. He also regularly gives presentations on HR issues as well as how to manage one’s career using social media.