The Secret to Networking? It May Surprise You.

Secret NetworkingYou 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.

Traditional 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

  1. The Law of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than what you take in payment.
  2. The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. The Law of Influence – Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  4. The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  5. 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.

Please leave a comment below and/or send me an email .

Remember, It Only Takes ONE!

Guest Expert:

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.

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  1. WOW, huge thanks to Matt for his very kind mention and inclusion of John David Mann’s and my book. Very appreciated. And, Matt’s advice throughout was totally right on target. Thank you again!!

    • Bob, How cool that my article made its way to you! The book has been a real positive influence for me and I bought several and I give them as gifts to folks I meet on my networking journey. So, I should definitely be thanking you instead. :>) Matt

      • I appreciate that a LOT, Matthew. It’s Ambassadors like you who are causing the message of the book to spread. You ROCK!

        • I first heard Bob Burg speak on networking over 8 years ago. He is a true networking guru and I agree with the article 100%. Here is my question: Given that 90%+ people who network have never gotten this advice and don’t practice it, how can we get the word out? Non giver networkers, especially job seekers, is very common.

  2. David Curry says:

    I was one of the people to whom Matt suggested your book. I loved it! It’s a concept that I have embraced my whole life, both personally and professionally. I’ve suggested it to several people myself in hopes to spread the message. My thanks to both, your fellow author and to Matt!

  3. I am currently in an MBA program and participate in as many networking opportunities as I possibly can. This article reaffirmed what I have been discovering in my networking – to talk more about the person instead of myself, and to never expect anything out of the conversation than the conversation – that is, to not be immediately looking for the next step in what they can do for you. I believe successful networking relationships take time and patience. Only after several interactions can you effectively ask the other person to leverage their network for you. Any earlier, and you do seem selfish, and more importantly you are not authentic.

    Thanks for the article!

  4. Matt,
    Great article. As a devoted “networker” I’m always looking to sharpen my skills. I think you’re perspective, and Bob’s, of having something to offer rather than taking is valuable to the the success of networking, especially in the world where time is a more and more precious commodity.

  5. Bob, Matt, & David- :)

    I haven’t read the book you mention, let alone authored it, but I still liked this article! I think it’s right on- I voluntarily coach job seekers in my community on their resumes, interviewing, and networking, and this is an article that I’m going to be sharing with everyone as well. I really appreciate how you’ve synthesized the lessons from The Go-Giver into the professional networking sphere. I would also recommend Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi as an additionally relevant book on this topic. Thanks!

  6. J C Carvallo says:

    Good article. Thanks.

  7. Thank you Matthew for applying a human touch to the dry and self centered networking going around in our society where everyone is trying to GET something out of networking instead of GIVING something away. Networking is a multifaceted concept that, when applied in keeping with the ‘values’ pointed out in your article, is certain to pay rich dividends to all parties involved. Many people don’t realize that even if they don’t get a job or career lead from certain corners of their network, they still can get other valuable intangibles like knowledge, morale boost or just a new friendship extending their ‘support system’ to navigate difficult times. But like you so nicely have put, it takes giving first and receiving will follow inevitably.

  8. What a great reminder of the importance of staying positive, giving to others and not falling into victim mentality. Thank you for this inspiring article!

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