How To Get Better At Networking

True story alert! Last year a friend of mine lost his job on Valentine’s Day. When he got home, he didn’t tell his wife. Didn’t want to upset her and ruin their rare date night out. With little kids and a mortgage, the pressure of unemployment was heavy. 

This isn’t a sob story though. 2 weeks later he had 3 job offers and started his new gig in enough time to double-dip on severance pay and salary from his new place. 

How he’d do it?

Networking.

Why Networking Works

Last week I wrote that 60% of jobs are found through networking. Networking works because both your friends and mine found jobs through networking, and good people like to pay it forward. 

It’s easy to talk ourselves out of sending an email or LinkedIn message asking for someone’s time to connect. They are busy, and who are we anyway, right?? 

What we overlook is that the person you’d like to connect with likely found their current job through networking. Often, they would be happy to return the favor or pay it forward. If it can happen in a Starbucks drive-thru, it can happen in your career. 

Without further adieu, here are 3 ways to become a networking pro. 

3 Ways To Get Better At Networking

  • N=30: In Statistics, for something to be significant, you need a sample size of at least 30. 1,000 surface-level relationships will get you a lot of Facebook friends. My advice is to invest genuinely in 30 professional relationships. Write their names down on a list and stay in contact with them. (Pro Tip: Most of these should ideally be outside your company.) 
  • Have a Reason: Reaching out to “check-in” is OK, but just like in sales, checking in doesn’t inspire action. Reach out with something of value that’s worthy of conversation. When your N=30, this is much more doable, and the impact is much more real. A former colleague recently forwarded me this article out of the blue and said, “hope you’re well.” He added value to my day, and that was cool. He’s one of my 30…I guess I’m also one of his. 
  • The Secret Question: A few months ago a former colleague introduced me to a successful entrepreneur. Within 90 seconds of our Zoom call, he asked me a straightforward and friendly question: “So, How Can I Help You?” Back- peddling I bumbled. I stumbled. I mumbled. Eventually, I responded…but it wasn’t coherent.  Now, I go into each conversation knowing how someone can help me. Even if it’s just asking “I’d like to know more about X, or how did you achieve Y?” By the way, this a great question to ask, not just answer. 

The Truth

The truth is to get better at networking you have to make the time to network. Making the time means making it a priority. Making it a priority means no longer looking at it as optional. 

The truth is when you treat networking as a career discipline you will always have a job.

The good news is Zoom coffee is now a thing. You can connect with former colleagues, mentors, friends without having to leave your (home) office. One Zoom coffee a week means you could touch your list of 30 easily in a year.

Not Convinced

Still not convinced? If you still aren’t convinced that means you are looking at networking and trying to calculate an ROI. No surprise there – It can’t be done. 

You can’t calculate an ROI because 95% of networking isn’t about what you get, it’s about what you give.

  • Looking to hire a new analyst? Great! I know one I can introduce you to. 
  • Lost your best sales rep? I know a couple good ones you should interview. 
  • Need custom software developed? I know a guy.

My friend from the Valentine’s Day Massacre gave for years. Helped tons of people in his network find new jobs, meet good people, vendors, partners. Never asked for anything. Until Valentine’s Day. 

When you give enough, long enough, you can get fired on Valentine’s Day…heck, even on Christmas…and use the situation to fund gifts from Santa for the whole family. 

So, let me ask…How Can I Help You? 

Please hit reply or comment on the post, I’d love to hear your thoughts and lend a hand if I can.

Published by brianhquinn

I believe we are all capable of incredible things. If you're going to doubt anything, don't your limitations. So that’s what this blog is all about. How do we shed those limitations to chart career paths based on our interests and talents rather than lines on a resume? Join me and find out.