People can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you, and introduce you to potential employers or clients. Whoever said business isn’t personal must have been someone who sits in their cube all day. Surrounding yourself with the “right” people – career influencers – and knowing how to leverage that support system (networking) can skyrocket your career into another dimension.
The goal of networking is to create a connection or establish a relationship with someone. The goal is not to start asking about job opportunities the instant you meet someone.
The message you want to send is NOT, “I’m someone who’s looking for a job.” But instead, you want to be sending the message that you’re a successful professional who’s resourceful, well connected, and who has some similar interests as they do. You want them to realize that you are someone that THEY should get to know!
So the next time you meet someone who works for a company where you want to work, or in a job role that you’d like to have, keep the conversation focused on that person (it’s not about you! – at least not yet!). Talk about their latest marketing campaign or product launch, or something new or interesting that’s going on inside their company.
Next, try to get their business card by simply saying, “I’d love to stay in touch – how about if we exchange business cards?” Follow up by sending a piece of information you think they might be interested in such as an article, or the results of a new study, or a cool website that relates to their business.
Once the door is open, then talk about some projects or teams that you’ve worked on that have been successful.
One thing that works really well for me, is offering to share tips, insight or lessons I learned about the project. I find that by doing this, people who appreciate these successes will naturally gravitate towards me. And it provides the foundation for a long-term relationship.
If you’re looking for a new job, then go ahead and drop a hint that you’re looking for “other opportunities.” And believe me, when you use this simple step-by-step formula, if they know of any opportunities they’re going to let you know!
One final thought, I strongly believe that no matter where you are in your career, we’re always in a position to help out others. Is there someone else you can support by introducing her to a potential employer, or giving a recommendation, or inviting to a networking event? Sometimes we get caught up in focusing just on ourselves, but remember that when we help out others along the way – the universe gives back to us more than we ever dreamed possible.
Bottom line: you need a powerful network if you want to have a powerful career. So start making connections and nurturing your professional relationships. You’ll find that once you have a strong team of career influencers on your side, doors to new opportunities will open and career will soar!