Did that catch your attention and prompt you to read on? I hope so. In my work, I continue to see people cringe when told that they MUST network if they want to conduct a successful job search. The rational reasons – unadvertised openings, hiring based on trust or simply being in the right spot at the right time – all make sense in a conversation. Reaching out to strangers, especially when it comes to the third-tier circle, is what seems to irritate and is difficult to practice in a disciplined manner for most people. Being told that networking is really NOT about asking for a job just plain frustrates people because when you feel “less than” as can happen in a transition, it is hard to focus on the serendipity of “just building a relationship”.
What if we looked at networking from a purely selfish and self-serving perspective? Here are three reasons why I believe that networking is really about you and your interests:
In a fast-paced world where interruptions are the norm, you allow the person you are networking with a legitimate reason to pause and reflect. In doing so, you have the opportunity to pause and reflect too and slow down your frenetic job search activity. A networking conversation allows you to pay attention to your entire being – your presence as well as how you engage in conversations. What a great hands-on activity for your interview preparation arsenal! Most offers come because you establish credibility and likeability via conversations. Go ahead, be “me-focused” as you prepare for networking because I believe when you do, your behavior during networking will be “other-focused.” Make this ‘me-focus’ work:
As Rainer Maria Rilke said:
Think of the world you carry within yourself.
A transition can bring out your worst habits. It can encourage you to rediscover habits that never served you well and those that you thought you had given up. Unconsciously, negative behaviors start showing up, some quietly and some loudly and aggressively. A networking conversation, especially with your first-tier contacts allows you to address these in a practical and positive manner. Subsequently, your second-and third tier conversations start quietly reinforcing and rebuilding your confidence – starts slow and the build-up is a fireworks display – full of applause and praise! Make this ‘me-focus’ work:
The poem by John Donne reminds us:
No man (or woman) is an island.
Central truth in life – we don’t know what we don’t know (yet). At no time is this statement as critical as when someone is in transition – whether making a career change, exploring career ideas or advancing in the same field. The role of research is paramount in any job search. What takes online or traditional paper research into a supercharged activity is the human element – someone who can confirm, deny, disagree or add to what you are learning about your career exploration and strategy. A networking conversation alerts you, gets you ready and helps you become that remarkable person to whom everyone wants to offer opportunities. So, isn’t this chance to connect all about you and for you? Make this ‘me-focus’ work:
I agree with Tuli Kupferberg who said:
When old patterns break, new ideas emerge.
So, what do you think? Would you agree that networking is really about you? Would that be a viable reason to build relationships for life? I certainly hope so.
Sunitha Narayanan is a certified career coach with a passion for connecting people and their talents to life and work opportunities. She is a co-active coach, empowering her clients to believe in their dreams, set actionable goals and actively create joy in their work lives. She is with Promark Company, a Career Partners International firm that offers executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement services. Learn about her interests by visiting her LinkedIn profile.