We all know them, that person who knows everyone. That person who seems to have a connection for every scenario. Car broken down? Their friend is a mechanic. Need that one specific venue for your wedding? They know the owners’ daughter. Looking for a job? And yes, they know 3 people who can make introductions for you.
How do they do it?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a super power reserved exclusively for the biggest extroverts out there who aren’t afraid of talking to anyone.
However, with the tools we now have at our disposal, networking is about to be overtaken by the introverts.
And this is how you can use it to secure the career of your dreams.
Scratch the idea that networking means talking to absolute strangers. The notion of the six degrees of separation stemmed from works conducted in the 1960s. This is the idea that you are connected to pretty much anyone in the world through no more than 6 people.
If this was in the 60s, imagine what it’s like now. A world where we’re now more connected than ever.
Not only are we more connected than ever, we can actually see who our friends know without even having to ask them. Just look at their followers list or that little 1st/2nd/3rd icon next to someones’ name on LinkedIn.
Use this to your advantage when trying to expand your network. Start with the low-hanging fruit.
Where to begin.
You need to work out a few things first. What are you interested in? Who do you want to speak to? And then, who can introduce you?
Networking and asking for a job are 2 very different things. Networking is a long game and you shouldn’t expect to reap immediate rewards. Networking is about expanding your reach and you do this by building real relationships with real people.
So, when you’re making your initial approach avoid making it about yourself immediately. Offer the person some value. What’s in it for them? This is actually where introverts really shine. We rarely want the spotlight on ourselves, so we’re quick to pass it on to others. Whereas our extroverted peers tend to do the contrary. This can be something as basic as commenting on a post they’ve made or complimenting them on their career trajectory.
The reason you go through a mutual friend first (or at least mentioned a mutual connection) is that it’ll make them feel more compelled to give you a response.
Never jump in and ask for a job straight away, we’re playing the long game, remember?
The only time you ask for a job or interview is when you’re reaching out to a recruiter or hiring manager about a specific job you’ve seen advertised. When you’re reaching out to people at this point, there’s no existing relationship to leverage so limit what you ask for.
Try to find another mutual interest that’s not work related. This is the key to building deeper, more meaningful relationships. This is a great one if you’re reaching out to someone who you have no mutual connections with. Did you go to the same school? Do you have a mutual hobby? Use these things to help create a connection that they may otherwise be unaware of.
So you’ve found the person you want to speak to, you’ve given them some kind of value and you have a connection. Now, what is it that you want from them?
Be really clear and unambiguous about this. The worst thing you can do is be really fluffy at this point and the other person is left wondering why you reached out and what should happen next.
Start by asking for 15 minutes of their time to learn more about how they got to where they are today. Everyone has 15 minutes to spare. And believe me, people are mostly nice and want to help. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about being on Clubhouse over the last few weeks it’s that people love to help others out. Especially those who are on the same journey as them, and who may just be a few steps (or years) behind.
If they don’t respond, don’t be offended. People are busy. But don’t be afraid to try again. I’ve begun my follow up messages in the past with things like, “Hey…, I just wanted to bring this to the top of your inbox again as I know you’re super busy and may have missed it…” Sometimes people just won’t reply, but that’s the nature of this game. Cast your net wide and you’ll see fruits soon enough.
If you’ve followed up once, then go for it a second time. Sometimes people genuinely forget. Another trick I like to use is messaging on an alternative platform where they may have less incoming traffic, like Instagram. People are constantly bombarded by Recruiters and Sales people on LinkedIn, so it can be very easy for your message to get lost in the noise.
If you do this consistently enough, before you know it you’ll have a longer list of contacts than you ever thought possible.
But once you’ve secured that 15 minute phone call or coffee, then you need to be really intentional about that conversation.
I’ll go into more depth on this conversation in my next article, so stay tuned!
Thoughts, feedback and questions are welcome.