Overcoming common challenges in job search networking. I have rarely met an individual that embraces and adores what most see as the chore of networking. Networking is the act of meeting other individuals to share resources and hopefully propel your respective needs forward. This is purposefully a vague definition as networking comes in many forms and can serve many different purposes. Some people network to advance the sales of a product. Some network to simply get their name or their business’s name out there so that it is at the forefront of peoples’ minds. And of course, some people network as a necessity for job searching.
Most jobs are found these days by networking. This makes me cringe because I personally do not enjoy the traditional idea of networking: showing up to a planned event, business cards in hand, ready to peddle your wares (or yourself) to unsuspecting and unknown individuals also looking out for their own motives.
Okay, sure…that’s not a pretty or appealing picture. Fortunately, networking has evolved and there are other ways to become reconnected (or initially connected) to individuals that may help you find a new and/or better job. First, I am a HUGE advocate for (online) social networking. Linked In (www.linkedin.com) is HOT right now. Google+ looks to be the next big contender. And of course, Facebook, is still a great way to keep in touch with peers, friends, and family for fun and as a possible source of additional job search leads. Houston has a great local and very active business networking site, InHouston (www.theinhouston.com). All of these social networking options allow for a primary benefit that is often overlooked – asynchronous communication.
In laymen’s speak, this means you do not have to speak out or respond immediately. So, you want to approach someone about a job at their company? Great! You have time to think about what you want to ask. You can research the company, the people at the company in that position, and spend thoughtful time formulating a good introductory e-mail. Similarly, someone asks for a recommendation on Linked In. Pay it forward! But, take some time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you make a good recommendation, you are likely to GET a good recommendation.
This takes me to the best (fairly) new idea in LIVE or traditional networking. While the idea goes by different names, essentially the ideology is based on Servant-Leadership combined Pay it Forward principles. In short, Servant Leadership is the idea of advancing an organization’s or individual’s needs by first and foremost meeting the needs of others. The idea is to organically strengthen the collective group and in doing so moving forward the needs of the individuals in the group. As it applies to networking, this means one simple thing: give before you ask. So, when you enter a networking event, instead of saying “Hi, my name is Jenny and I sell shoes”, you may try “Hi, my name is Jenny. Can you tell me what you do and how I might be able to help you?” An easy fix isn’t it? And, can you see how this would immediately change the “mood” of networking. Now, instead of walking into a room with 50 strangers to which you must market aggressively. You are putting yourself in the role of helper and change motivator. Who wouldn’t want to know this person? Try it. You’ll like it. The joy is…you can do this live and online. And if you apply the Pay it Forward principle to job search networking, you will find that the overall energy of your search will immediately improve.
So, get out…or should I say IN to the networks and try connecting with a new stance in mind. Be aggressive. Be aggressive in helping others first. Take advantage of asynchronous communication. Be thoughtful. Be thoughtful and aggressive in helping others first and you will see that more often than you expect, favors will be returned. …and hopefully, one of these favors turns into your next awesome job!
Danny Zendejas is the Senior Business Consultant specializing in the Education Industry for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.