Here you are networking your butt off, going from event to event and conversation to conversation. And now I tell you that, of all the people you’ve talked with, none of them wants to help you find a job.
If you’re frustrated with your networking efforts, it could be you don’t fundamentally understand that sacred truth of the job search.
When I work with job seekers one major goal is to put the networking conversation in context. Here are a couple of key points to keep in mind.
1. No One Wants to Help You Find a Job
If you lunge at people with the air of desperately seeking a job, it’s a major turn off.
First of all, it’s Too Much Pressure. If you open a conversation with “Hey I’m looking for a job can you give me 20 minutes of your time,” it’s Too Much Pressure. Wait did I already say that? That’s because it’s worth repeating.
People will share their information, insight, expertise, and wisdom. But asking others to take responsibility for you getting a job (which is what lunging amounts to) is inappropriate.
People don’t want the pressure or responsibility of getting you employed. Unless you’re paying them for it. And that’s not what networking is about.
Your take-away: Don’t lunge at people, or lead with comments that you’re looking for a job, need a job, are desperate for a job, or “will take a job, any job, do you know of anything.” Remember, no one wants to help you find a job.
If you are networking like this, and it’s not working, hopefully you now understand why.
2. People Will Share Information, if You Give Them a Good Reason
When you do good research for your job hunt, you can have more effective, more specific, non-lunging conversations about your job search.
Hanging out on line is one way to do research. The other way is by having networking conversations with people. In the process you will Build Relationships.
This is what networking is about. You have already done this in myriad life situations. Now you are doing it in support of your career.
When you are clear on the information you’d like to gather for your research, you’ll be able to have better, non-lunging oriented conversations. And people will feel more invited to have a professional conversation with you.
Such a conversation would begin like this:
Hi Mike, as you know I recently graduated from Marist and I’m planning my career launch. I’m targeting three key areas: marketing communications, corporate social responsibility program management, and philanthropy. I’d like to work in a multi-national organization in the Chicago area.
I notice that your last position was in marketing communications in the pharma industry. Would you be willing to spend 20 minutes helping me get clear on my path? I’d like to ask you about:
- The “real” type of work you do in marketing communications
- The pros and cons of working in the pharma industry, and if I should include pharma in my target industry list
- Your insight on making good career decisions
Can you see how that’s a very different conversation than:
Hi Mike, I just graduated and I’m looking for a job basically doing anything. You know how bad the job market is right now for grads, right? Can you meet me for coffee and see if there’s anyone you know who might want to hire me?
If you are having conversations like the latter, or anything close to it, hopefully now you understand why it’s not working.
3. Good Manners Get You Miles
When you have well-constructed conversations, come prepared, and impress your content expert with your thoroughness, you are building a sterling reputation.When you follow up with a professional thank you note, and an offer to help them in any way you can, you build it further.
Recently, John Muscarello (@JMMuscarello) wrote an impeccable blog on the value of good manners in networking conversations. It’s a good read and worth your time. When you demonstrate those manners, you’ll invite others to work with you because they know you’ll make THEM look good!
Will that expert be willing to introduce you to others? Probably. Because when he or she connects you to their network, they are putting their own reputation on the line. A well prepared and executed conversation, and good manners, make them more comfortable with taking that risk.
All of which is much better – and more effective – than lunging at someone with the air of a desperate job seeker. Put a little more effort, intention, and work into your networking conversations. See what happens.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!
About the Author: Lea McLeod helps recent grads and mid-careerists navigate the job search. And once you have a job, she’ll coach you to the brilliant performance of which you are capable! Her “Developing Patterns of Success” Workshop has been deployed to help thousands of college hires worldwide do just that. Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.