If there is anyone who knows how to do networking right, it’s my new friend Jenny Powers. Jenny and I met at an entrepreneurial women’s conference last year. The founder and CEO of Running with Heels, a women’s networking community, Jenny is CRUSHING IT by connecting amazing women in a most interesting and entertaining fashion. She’s become a true example of what I stand for with Sound Change as she champions the art of career change and entrepreneurship with guts, intelligence…and heels! (By the way if you don’t believe me – read her article on networking that got picked up by the Huffington Post!)
Last night I attended my second Running with Heels event and it occurred to me that networking is really the new informal interview. It’s kind of liked “LinkedIn LIVE!” As a full time entrepreneur who of course works on multiple projects, you always want to look for people and companies that you can profitably collaborate with or work for. When I say profit I mean two kinds – both monetarily AND energetically.
Looking for Jobs vs. Networking for Opportunities
As a career coach, I talk to a LOT of people who have their head in LinkedIn, Indeed, and Idealist. They sort of go into this digital coma of applying for jobs and feeling like their applications are going into the abyss.
Can you get a job through LinkedIn or any of the others? YES. As a recruiting consultant I myself have found employees for companies on many of these sites. It DOES happen. It just can’t be your ONLY effort.
So how can you use networking to leverage the job search?
I’m going to “listacle” you right now.
Warning: If you read any further you have to promise to actually do something not just be inspired!
- Find networking opportunities that speak to your values. I could list a bunch here but you are going to have to do some legwork. Obviously I am a Running with Heels Fan and also Savor the Success. These cater to mostly women so Meetup, LinkedIn groups and a few quick google searches in your area will start your process. What are you listening for? Do the messages of this network match my professional and personal goals and values? The mission and purpose should move you!
- Commit to number of networking opportunities you will attend each month that FITS your BUDGET. As a job changer or someone seeking more professional fulfillment you have to make goals that don’t stress you out and that motivate you to act. Look at what you can expend on events and make it happen.
- Be able to explain what you do without the other person requiring a PhD. This is super important. This is not “show and tell” it’s “meet and learn.” Don’t use jargon, industry code words or abbreviations. Be a human. In short – you should be a walking “For Dummies” version of your skills and talents. It’s not that the others are dumb it’s just that pretentiousness is icky. (CRM is my favorite…if you are into customer relationship management I assume you use words not abbreviations to communicate?)
- Get that networking takes TIME. Don’t expect that you will go to one event and find your dream connection. Sometimes people or opportunities sound great and never pan out. You have to go in with a sense of adventure that this is PART of your career journey not ALL OF IT. Remember you are building RELATIONSHIPS that could lead to the right opportunity.
- Phone a friend! Ok I am a total extrovert but I can get if networking events freak you out. Call up someone in your life who you think might also benefit and bring a wing man or woman. Don’t let the fear of social situations squash your career opportunities!
- Have FUN! Nothing is worth investing your time into unless you are going to have fun. Try out different events and ask yourself which ones make you leave happy and fulfilled. If they are snoozers – move on. Ultimately you will find the right fit!
- Listen, Learn, Follow up! Don’t rule anyone out but listen for mutual benefit not from “What can I get?” How about “how can we help each other?” People can tell opportunistic energy over someone who genuinely interested in continuing a connection. Follow up with people that you think could be a good connection. Don’t send an email that night. Wait a day or so. It’s kind of like dating!
Now that you’ve spent a few minutes reading now what? You are too brilliant to just stop in the moment of awareness. Grab your phone or calendar and schedule an action. Don’t just be entertained by information let it MOVE YOU TO ACT. You deserve the results so set yourself up to WIN!