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Published on October 29, 2018

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Networking has been around for a very long time. From the early days of the Royal Society in the late 1600s when gentlemen gathered together to share scientific discoveries and make connections with like-minded people, to today where people connect to advance careers and share knowledge and career advice. It has been a way for humans to learn, discover and advance for hundreds of years.

As with all forms of communication, there are many different ways to master the art. Here are a few alternative ways on how to network that can help you to advance your career and professional life.

1. Networking is about giving, not just receiving

The best networkers share their ideas and knowledge.

The mistake is to think of networking as a way to receive; when in reality, if you want to get the most out of networking, giving and sharing your knowledge will develop your spheres of influence and expand the number of people who will help you much faster.

Sharing your knowledge will also encourage people to introduce you to other, like-minded people and expand your network.

2. Become known as an expert in your field

One of the best ways to become better at networking is to become known as the expert in your field. To do this, you need to read, listen and learn everything you can about your area.

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This could be anything from knowing what trends are growing in your industry to understanding how new technologies such as blockchain and AI are affecting your business area.

When you become known as an expert in your field people will seek you out, rather than you having to seek people out and your network will grow organically.

3. Always have time for other people

In a world where we feel overwhelmed by work and commitments, it is hard to find the time for additional activities. But the best networkers always find the time to develop relationships, meet new people and exchange ideas and views.

You never know when you might meet a person who could give your career the boost it needs. So being open to meeting new people will expand your network, open up opportunities and could result in your next career opportunity.

If someone in your network suggests you meet with someone, make sure you take the time to meet that person and get to know them.

4. Write a blog, start a podcast or a YouTube channel

One of the best ways I have found to build a thriving network is to write a blog or create a podcast or YouTube channel.

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Often these activities are seen as a way to build a client base; yet over the years I have been writing, recording and producing content online, I have developed an amazing network of friends in my field from all over the world.

Many of those friends also produce content online and we have shared each other’s content and given tips, ideas and have opened doors for each other that would previously have remained closed.

5. Never burn your bridges

I learned this a long time ago.

You never know what your colleagues, clients and school friends will do in the future. No matter what you think of a person, remaining on good terms with them will help build a long and deep list of people you can go to for help in the future.

When you burn your bridges, not taking the time to reply their emails, messages or phone calls, you destroy connections that may in the future allow you to develop your career and knowledge base.

I’ve received tips and connections from some of my old school friends who are in the broadcasting industry, legal advice from former colleagues who are now partners in their own law firm, and referrals from some of my old drinking buddies.

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Remaining on good terms with former schools friends, colleagues and hometown friends has been a mine of helpful tips and advice.

6. See each new connection as an opportunity to share

Whether you are on a train or a flight and start a conversation with the person sitting next to you, or you are meeting new people at a conference, always see it as an opportunity to share rather than an opportunity to gain.

The best networkers not only know how to use their network, but they also understand that in order for their network to grow and remain effective, they need to be developing their connections regularly.

The fastest way to grow your network is to see each new introduction as a way to share something useful. When you share something useful with a new acquaintance, they are much more likely to help you in the future.

7. Use social media

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and in doing so, it has opened up opportunities that can allow us to build a global network of friends.

Get yourself involved in groups that are related to your field, ask and answer questions and get to know the people sharing ideas and tips.

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I know social media can destroy a productive day, a good way to do this is to set aside time each day to read through the groups you are a member of, and answer a question or pose a question yourself.

Being active in these social media groups gets you noticed and allows you to share your knowledge with other people. I have met numerous people through these groups who have introduced me to business opportunities that would otherwise have remained closed to me.

Bonus tip: Stay away from discussing religion and politics!

In the past, we shared business cards; today we give people our LinkedIn or Facebook names.

If you are posting your political views in these places, it will kill your network. No matter what your religious or political beliefs are, there will always be people who do not share those views. At a time when political and religious beliefs have become polarising, it is safer to stay away from these areas.

Be completely neutral on these topics and you will be safe. Offer an opinion on these topics and you will be dragged into a debate that could tarnish your networking opportunities for a very long time.

Final thoughts

Networking can be hard and time-consuming, but it can also open up opportunities to you that would otherwise remain closed off.

Maintaining an open mind to meeting new people, having a sharing mindset rather than a receiving mindset and becoming known as an expert in your field will bring benefits to you. And that will help you grow your career and influence over time.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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