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Published on November 26, 2020

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” in regards to landing a job. This really isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to the job market. Having the right connection can make all the difference between “you’re hired” and chirping crickets.

Studies suggest that 70 percent of jobs are never advertised on job classifieds and 80 percent of positions are filled because somebody knew somebody.[1] That’s right, a connection is paramount if you want to get your foot in the door and secure that dream job you’ve had your eye on.

When it comes to making those connections and learning about the unannounced job roles, networking is the key to the castle. Sure, credentials are still important, but if a person knows how to network the right way, they have an advantage that will be of serious benefit throughout their professional lives.

Before we jump into how to network the right way, it would be beneficial to spend a moment talking about what not to do. Avoid the mistake of only networking when you need a job. Reaching out to network only when you need something won’t help foster a genuine connection and gives off the stench of desperation. Networking should be about building mutually beneficial relationships, not self-serving ones.

Alright, let’s dive into how to go about developing a networking strategy that’s about more than collecting business cards and LinkedIn connects.

1. Make a List of Who You Already Know

There’s a real good chance that you already know a lot more people than you think. One of the best ways to network and expand your connections is by reconnecting with those you already know. Scroll through your social media feeds and jot down those folks that you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while.

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A few circles to consider:

  • Past jobs
  • Old friends from college
  • Church acquaintances
  • Hobby groups or sports league teammates

The idea here is to start with who you already know — particularly those that may be in or have connections to your career field. Even if it’s somebody that you haven’t spoken to in years, add them to the list. Casting a wide net is better than a single line here.

2. Reach Out to Those Established Connections

Now’s when you simply want to reach out to some of these connections. Something as simple as a quick email asking how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to is a great way to get started.

Blasting off an email or text to somebody you haven’t spoken to in six years might feel awkward, but don’t let that deter you. You should trust that they’ll probably enjoy hearing from you and catching up.

It’s not just about who you know, but who they know as well. Set aside your pride and ask if they know anybody in your related field they could introduce you to. Remember, the people you know are your allies when it comes to expanding your network and building new professional relationships.

3. Listen and Learn

Expanding and building a network of strong networking connections involves a mindset that’s focused on listening and learning.[2] Whether you’ve emailed a connection that an old work colleague gave you, or you’re making small talk with a stranger at a business conference, an eagerness to learn goes a long way. It shows you have a natural interest in the other person and what they do.

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If the person is working in the field that you’re trying to break into, now’s your time to come with a few questions regarding what their role looks like or any advice they might have regarding the field. You should be listening twice as much as you’re speaking.

4 Look for How You Can Be Useful

It’s easy to think of networking as a way of getting something for yourself, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to build new relationships. It’s out of those that opportunities come along.

A good mindset to have in networking is to think about how you might be able to contribute or add value — without the expectation of something in return. It’s just this sort of mind flip that can make a big difference.

You may know somebody who is perfect for a role their company is looking to fill, but how you add value may not even be career-related. For example, perhaps during your conversation, they mention a love of biking and you know somebody who runs a cycling hobbyist group. Put that out there! It’s those sorts of interactions that lay the groundwork for building relationships.

5. Put Your Successes Out There

There’s a good possibility that at some point during networking, somebody is going to ask about what it is you do. This is your chance to share just what it is that’s so special about you, so be ready. Share what you’ve done in the past and why you’re passionate about your chosen field or the field you’d like to be in.

You’ll probably want to keep this relatively short, a few sentences or 90 seconds should suffice. If they want to know more, they’ll certainly ask.

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6. Expand Your Potential Networking Horizons

Scroll through your mental rolodex of people you know for a second. You probably know at least one person who is always doing something with one group or another, right? And this person probably knows everybody and their cousin, right? Well, there’s a good reason for that — they put themselves out there.

Networking mixers are fine, but they can also be counterproductive and feel more like business card trading events. Joining professional or civic groups can be a fantastic way of meeting new people, as can volunteering or various hobbyist groups.

Even if the event or group isn’t business-related, there’s still value in making and building upon new connections.

7. Don’t Just Scroll LinkedIn, Be Active

LinkedIn was built for networking, but a lot of us are probably guilty of not making the most of it. Not to worry, there’s an easy fix for this, it just means getting off your digital butt and getting active.

Rather than simply scrolling your feed, engage with the content you see. Like it, share it, comment on it — and add your own content. This could be an article you really enjoyed, a professional milestone, or simply an observation about an aspect of your industry.

You don’t need to get obsessive about engaging with a connection’s content on LinkedIn, but by regularly doing so, you’ll slowly build a familiarity with one another. Check out this article and learn how to network on LinkedIn: How to Network on LinkedIn (6 Dos and Don’ts)

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8. Follow up and Nurture Those Connections

People aren’t sitting around thinking about ways they can offer you a great job. You have to present the possibility for that to happen and this means staying in touch with networking connections.

If you recently met somebody at an event, through another contact or simply connected on LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to send an email or text a day or two later. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, simply “enjoyed meeting you” or “thanks for the advice” will work.

Take the time to occasionally touch base and maintain this new connection, but be patient. Remember, networking the right way is about organically fostering a professional relationship.

9. Make Everyday Networking Part of Your Life

There’s no reason to wait for a big networking event, there are opportunities to network, build, and strengthen connections all the time.

Make it a goal for yourself to reach out to a few of those old LinkedIn contacts that you haven’t spoken to since you connected with them five years ago. Chat with your neighbors and the guy or gal who makes your morning cup of coffee. And do it over and over again.

Adopting the mindset of making everyday networking a part of your life will eventually make it feel like second nature!

More Networking Tips

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com

Reference

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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