The job search landscape has changed quite a bit over the past two years. In the old days, two years ago, it wasn’t as difficult to secure a meeting with someone you barely knew. There are at least a couple of reasons for this. Let’s take a look at the why and then we’ll take a look at how you might need to go about networking more effectively.
First of all, thousands more people are looking for employment or fear they will need to be looking for employment. What this means is that one person with the ability to hire within a company could conceivably receive hundreds of requests for a “networking meeting”. In the old days, they may have received a couple of requests and they could accommodate those. They can not accommodate all the requests they receive today. They will have to filter requests based on the warmth of the referral and/or relevancy to what they may have a need to hire.
The other issue is that many of those thousands of “networkers” are going about it all wrong. They ask for a job. This turns off the poor victim and spoils their view of trying to do something helpful or nice. They feel like the tables have been turned on them or worse, they feel like they are being used. No one wants to feel like they are being used.
The tougher is gets, the better we have to be. Based on the information above, you’ll need to become even better at networking. Here are some things to consider:
- What is the strength of your relationship?
- What specific pieces of information you are seeking?
- What is something of value you can provide in return?
If you barely know the person providing the referral and you know little about the person you wish to network with, what are the chances they’ll agree to meet with you? Slim to none.
What can you do to fix this. First, remember that networking is an investment and takes time. You need to develop relationships. Don’t be in such a hurry to take your information and run to the phone. Take more time to learn about the person offering you a referral. Second, find out how they know this contact they are giving you. All of this data/information will warm up the lead.
Liz Lynch writes and speaks about networking. Her blog offers insight to anyone needing to improve their networking skills. She addresses the needs of business owners and job seekers. In a post about building relationships organically, Lynch recommends:
“Move on to having more robust conversations by asking more thoughtful questions.”
Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers wrote about this: 5 Networking Fundamentals to Land a Job:
- Ask questions
- Be interested in the replies
- Have a story
- Follow up
Someone, somewhere, holds the key to your next job. The fun part is trying to find that person!