Networking: Are You Begging or Building?

by Terwelp, Wendy J. Thursday, July 24, 2008
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Networking DOES work. Time and again, my clients land positions using their network. BUT, as others have said, it must be done right. “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?” is NOT networking done right. And this happens to be the way many people start their search.

One of my clients, a senior programmer, was unemployed 18 months before meeting with me. (She’d been downsized after 25 years at a company that had been acquired.) She said, “Do NOT tell me to network. It does not work.” Really? Hmmm. How are you going about it? Like this: “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?” Yep, began emails this way, sending out a poorly done resume with each one. And when meeting with friends, her opening line was “Do you know anyone…”

So, for 18 months, her network did not work.

What we did: First, revamped all communication pieces - resume, cover letter, email format, etc. Next, identified all of her contacts. (Think BIG people.) Then, we created a sound bite that could be quickly revamped for emails, in-person meetings, and even her bowling league. My client took action. (For more tips on how to structure your sound bite, please visit: www.knocks.com/news.asp and check out the article: “Use Personal Branding to Network without Begging.”)

Guess what? Within three weeks, including the Fourth of July holiday, she had a new job at a higher level - project management.

How did this happen? Here’s how: One of the people on her bowling league said, “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to work at X company? My son works there!” So, my client gave her friend the new resume, her friend passed it on, and my client landed her dream gig. This person had been in her network the whole time!

Steve, a six-figure commercial lender (and one of my clients), has landed his last four positions using his network - maintaining it throughout his career. Each position was at a higher level - in title, compensation, perks, etc.

George created his last two positions where no position had been before - one as a marketing director. He made the connection at one of my live Rock Your Network® events. His most recent position he created by remaining connected with those he met.

Lisa, a human resources manager who had recently relocated, also landed her most recent position through networking - despite having no local network (or so she thought). She too attended one of my Rock Your Network® events and made several connections. Yes, she followed up with those she met. She was most amazed by how warm people were and by how much they wanted to help.

Can the internet be used for networking? Heck yes! Again, it must be done right. Asking for favors with zero connection is not networking. It’s begging. Networking is about relationships - building them and maintaining them.

Margaret, working in DC politics, wanted a major career change. She jumped on FaceBook and reconnected with some friends from high school. One of them had her exact dream job with her dream company. She learned more about the position and her friend got her an interview.

Networking DOES work - offline or on. The important thing to remember is that it is a two-way street. Build and maintain the relationship.

Can they be revived after being dormant for years? Yes! Yesterday I got a call from a former co-worker. It had been more than 10 years since I had heard from her. She called with an opportunity, not begging for a job. She called to reconnect. She called to ask for help with her husband’s company who is experiencing a downsizing - and she wants to put me in touch with their HR team. Now that is the right way to go about reconnecting.

A wrong way? Got a call last week from another former co-worker. He wants a change. What names could I give him? Who do I know in the X field? Hmmm. I had not talked this person in several years and the first thing he wants are my connections.

See the diff?

Challenge: Take a look at how you’ve been networking. Really look. And be honest with yourself. Have you been begging or building?

© 2008 • Wendy J. Terwelp • All rights reserved.