Do you ever feel restless at your current job? You go to work every day, but you’re just not feeling motivated anymore. However, you don’t want your employer to know that you’re unhappy. You like this job well enough, especially the paycheck it provides. Plus, you need to make that car payment!
What’s your plan for getting out there and networking without your employer finding out?
Make networking something that you do all the time, not just when you’re looking for a job. When you are known as a networker, it’s perfectly normal to see you eating lunch with strangers, going to meetings of professional groups, and joining organizations that further your career. It’s also normal to see you volunteer time for causes that you support. You’re more likely to make professional connections with people who have similar interests.
The more you reach out and connect with others, the broader your network will become. “Relationship before task,” is good advice that I got while pursuing my master’s degree. The key to networking is developing relationships first, and then asking for favors. Too many people wait until they’re desperate for a new job, and then try to network from a very needy place. Making it clear that you’re needy is a major red flag for employers, so avoid doing that at all costs. If you want something from someone, offer them something first. Lastly, always be ethical in your dealings—stealing from a company to give to a competitor will only ever end badly for you.
There are three primary ways to jumpstart your network.
1. Chunk Out Sometime
How much time per week can you commit to networking? Would you be able to do it during lunchtime, or only in the evenings? Are breakfast meetings possible for you? Remember, this is a long-term plan. You may start networking every night of the week, but it’s not sustainable over time—not without relationships or other areas of your life suffering. It can also be expensive. How much time and money are you willing to spend on networking activities?
2. Choose Your Method
Do you like networking better in person or through social media platforms? Do you feel more comfortable meeting new people by yourself or with a friend? How many people can be in the same room as you before it starts to bother you? I prefer connecting with people on LinkedIn and then scheduling a time to meet them in person. I also enjoy attending networking functions and then following up with some of the attendees later for coffee. If face-to-face meetings aren’t your thing, try using Skype, FaceTime, Tango, or Google Hangouts instead. It is crucial to make eye contact and read body language because those two aspects are nonverbal clues that give you information about the other person that you can’t get through email. Also, remember that people will base their first impression of you on your appearance and background in the video, so choose wisely! keep in mind that each action you take will be remembered by others.
3. Find Your Tribe
With whom do you want to connect? Consider the type of people you would like to have as colleagues. Where might they frequent? Are they often at industry conferences or meetings, or do they enjoy participating in volunteer work? Could you possibly reach out to them via LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook? There is also such a thing as “accidental networking,” which occurs from bumping into someone unexpectedly in places such as the grocery store, gym, or on a nature hike.
Go forth and network! By constantly keeping your skills polished and your reputation intact, networking will become second nature to you. Once you get into the habit of networking, it’ll be easy to find a job should you ever need one. Remember that networking is like the web: many connections are coming from different places.
You always get what you give. If you want to be successful, always act professionally and ethically. People are constantly observing your behavior, so it is important to be aware of how you conduct yourself. You never know when you might run into your next boss, so always be professional and put your best foot forward! Who knows, they may have an opening that’s just perfect for you and thinking of you before they even post it. So go out there and make a great impression!
Still, searching for the perfect networking advice?
Watch Office Hours with Dan Schwabel for more information on networking!