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Apr
28

One of the reasons why I created the upcoming Career on Fire retreat (join us in Costa Rica in August? More to come soon!) involves networking, because it is so crucial to career success.

How did you get your last job? Last interview? Last great professional contact?

Was it through your network? (And by network, I mean anyone that you know).

Chances are, it was. 

Your network is your most powerful job search tool.  And it is INCREDIBLY important to finding your next job.

But, because it can be awkward ("I don't want to bother that person"), time consuming ("How many events do I need to attend?") and frustrating ("why haven't I heard back from this person? Do they not like me?"), many of us put it off.

There are two big networking mistakes that I see people make all the time - and because you are both amazing and awesome, it's my job to see that you avoid these at all costs.

So here it goes:

1. You don't know what to ask of your network. 

Your network is full of busy people who are willing to help you, but not if you make it difficult on them. To make it SO MUCH easier on you and on them, take a moment to really get clear on what kind of help you need from the person you are talking to, and then ask them for that help specifically.

For example: You want help finding a job in a new city.  You can get in touch with different people and say: "Hey, I'm moving from DC to Chicago, know of anyone hiring?" This question is both generic and not helpful if the person doesn't have a background in the Windy City. You are then asking them to figure out what you need (what kind of job? Why Chicago? etc etc), AND who they know that might be helpful. You are basically asking them to do YOUR job for you, and taking up more of their precious time. 

A better question might be: "Hey, I'm moving from DC to Chicago and I'm looking to change careers from federal consulting to something in the field of health care and health management consulting. Do you know of anyone in health care or health consulting that I can talk to about job trends and the overall industry? I would love to do some informational interviews."

Do you see how those questions are different?

If you don't get specific, it's really hard for your network to want to help you.  If you want my help, make it easy on me! Like many people, I'm lazy.  So, don't make me think too hard, instead connect the dots for me so that I can easily find the person you want for YOU.

When people ask me for networking help but they keep things very general, I assume that they don't know what they want and are wasting my time...so I'm less inclined to help them.  Partially because they are making my job harder, and partially because if they don't know what they want they are probably going to reflect badly on me when I do introduce them to my network.

Either way, I'm not impressed.

And because 80% of jobs are never advertised, if your network is not working for you - then you are missing out on some amazing jobs.

Don't be this person!

2. You don't tailor your question to the person.

If you really want someone to help you, flattery, research, and being smart about what you ask goes a long way.  For example: if you were to send me a group email asking me for help finding accounting jobs in North Carolina I would hit delete because I don't work in accouting and I've never lived in NC. 

If you want my time, and my help, then ask me for something that I can actually help you with (or, at least make me feel wise!).  If you expect someone to give you their time, do them the honor of putting in your time first.

So, if you want help finding a great accounting job in North Carolina, go to people who are either in accounting or have a connection to NC first.  Do your research and tailor your questions, to the best of your ability, to their expertise.  It makes them feel smart and it makes you look good.

I do know that sometimes you don't know who is in what network, so you have to cast your net wide.  For all you know, I now regularly hang out with accountants and have all sorts of North Carolina Mafia connections (Note: I don't. It seems like a great state though!).  So, email people individually and preface your question by honing in on their expertise: "I know from your background that you may not have anyone in your network in accounting or with connections to North Carolina, but I also know you are incredibly well connected and an expert in coaching, so I thought I would go ahead and ask for your advice. I'm thinking about leaving DC to get a new accounting job in North Carolina.  I've reached out to friends and family who are in the field and in the area, what is the next step that you would you take if you were me? I would be so appreciative if we could have 10 minutes to chat - I know you are incredibly busy!"

This second ask flatters me (always a plus!), hones in on how I personally can help (coaching), asks me something reasonably specific (next step), and acknowledges that my time is valuable (I feel important). 

All of a sudden I want to validate my expertise and help you out, so I'm racking my brain for a CPA in NC that I can now introduce you to.

See how it works?

If you are already doing this, bravo! You are awesome, and keep up the good work.  If not, it happens...but - it doesn't have to happen anymore!

You can do this!!

If you want some help finding your passion, just click here to grab your simple (and free!) workbook on the six steps to finding work that makes you happy!

 

Christie

 

 

 


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