Networking is not a science. No matter what you do or how you do it, it doesn’t work every single time. People have different personalities, needs, and communication styles, so there’s no foolproof way to create an authentic connection with each person you meet.
Because results aren’t guaranteed, networking is a love-hate relationship type of activity. The quality of a good connection versus a great one vary. If you don’t earn trust and respect from your network, it will never be useful for you.
There are many schools of thought on how many people and what types of people you should have in your network, but they all rely on one basic strategy. If you focus on giving to the people in your circles, you’ll have the most successful networking mindset. CAREEREALISM founder J.T. O’Donnell discussed it in this video, which is just a tiny piece of one of our Career Q&A shows.
Your goal in networking is to have meaningful conversations. It’s about finding peers and colleagues and asking what interests them, what problems they’re solving, what tools they’re looking for, and how you can help them. Once you have that information, you can bond with them much more easily.
Use your social currency to provide tools and resources for the people in your network, and it will come back to you. That’s exactly how I got this job.
I interned for CAREEREALISM in 2009. I was responsible for editing articles and promoting them via Twitter. I never met J.T. in person, but I regularly communicated with her online. After my internship was over, I still frequently read and shared CAREEREALISM content. When I came across typos or other things that needed to be fixed, I sent J.T. or one of the other employees a quick e-mail.
For a good portion of 2013, I was employed either part-time or not at all. I never asked J.T. for a job, but I did send her a couple of post corrections in a message last month. Because I continually gave time and effort – even if it was only five minutes a month – she was happy to start a discussion with me when she wanted to expand her team.
When I sent that last e-mail to J.T., I had been networking, getting referrals, applying for jobs via job boards, and asking many people if they knew of anywhere hiring in marketing. It was when I didn’t ask for a job that I received the perfect job for this stage of my career. I have the CAREEREALISM team to thank for the opportunity, but that never would have come up if I hadn’t been so giving.
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