Check out my this weeks article in ‘The Tribune’.
Please do share the article amongst your family and friends.
“I don’t know how to network.” “I am not comfortable asking for a job.” “How can you network sitting from home?”
These and many more doubts are there in the minds of many people. 2020 has been a shape shifter in the world of jobs. Job losses or the threat of them have been a dominant theme. Entire industries got wiped out temporarily at least. While the employment numbers are back up, their composition is changing. A few facts which you should know:
- Nearly 18 million Indians have to change their occupation by 2030 (McKinsey’s report on the future of work post Covid 19).
- It is even more difficult to find a job in the 40’s and beyond.
- Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion (40%) vs only 7% as an average conversion from other channels.
Networking is farming and not hunting. It is not selling. If you reach out only when you need help, you won’t get too far. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in the situation of having to network for the next career move because of an unfortunate layoff, and you haven’t been really good at cultivating your network in the past, I highly recommend that you get started with these top 5 strategies for networking in the new normal and beyond.
- SEEK ADVICE: When approaching someone, ask for advice and guidance. Ask them for feedback on any ideas you may have, any courses you may be contemplating and their insights on specific topics related to your target industry and career stage. Ask them if they can introduce you to someone they believe may be useful for you to engage with. Don’t ask if you can send them your cv upfront. Don’t ask if they have a job in their company. Let that come out naturally during the course of the conversation.
- THE “N” FACTOR: Statistics students will recognize the symbol “n” or population/sample size. Simply put, networking requires effort and results typically show only when we have reached a certain no. For a networking strategy to works, it means reaching out aggressively to known and unknown connections. Don’t get disheartened if there is no positive response from the 1st 5 contacts.
- OFFER HELP: Do offer help and be genuine about it. Do not assume that you cannot be of help to someone. Let them decide.
- SAY THANKS IN WRITING: A few lines from the heart on what the conversation meant to you and not a summary of next steps goes a long way in adding to the trust factor with the new connection.
- BE IN THEIR MIND: Show your contact that they are in your mind. This can be achieved by sharing relevant articles, festive greetings and the like. This is very different from stalking them.
STILL HAVING DOUBTS? Do read my take on a few common doubts.
Doubt 1: What’s the right career stage to start networking?
You can get started with your networking strategy at any career stage, the earlier the better. Good networkers genuinely give without hope of a return and in the long run reap the benefits of those relationships.
Doubt 2: Networking is for extroverts.
Networking is about lots of one-on-one connections. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be well networked. All of us can connect to others well at an individual level, and this is really about having a strategy and getting on with it.
Doubt 3: I have been networking, but how do I know if I am doing well?
What gets measured gets done. So, do track your progress. Do a quick check at least every 6 months. Remember the point on staying in their mind.
Doubt 4: Most of my contacts are junior.
Get rid of your hesitations. All contacts are good contacts. Juniors will become seniors. They have a lot of information on who’s who within a firm etc. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the seniors. The worst that can happen is someone will say no.
- For you to be able to seize the opportunity to network and not wait, it is most important that you let go of your inhibitions, and track your progress just like you track your projects at work.
- Be clued into what’s happening in the world of your potential contact before you approach them. That will help you to be genuinely interested in what they are doing and open up the doors for you.
- Keep the conversations open ended and ask for advice and validation of your ideas.
- Ask each contact for introductions. That is the best way to fearlessly grow your network.
- Most importantly, remember to offer help and say thanks in writing.
Networking is the magic for getting your next opportunity. Don’t let that pass.
Nimrata Kapoor, HR Advisor and Career Coach