Top 10 Secrets to Turn Networking Pain to Career Gain

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It’s not what you know; it’s who you know that gets you hired or promoted. We’ve all heard this phrase so many times our ears are bleeding, right? Here are the facts: more than 70% of people land new jobs through networking. And, according to CareerXroads Source of Hire Study, 41% land through internal promotions or movement. With that in mind, here are 10 secrets to turn your networking pain into career gain:

  1. Know yourself and your personal brand: Are you hip, trendy, and cool? If you are, then the networking group you join should match your style and your attitude. Sure, you want to meet different types of people to successfully manage your career, but you also want them to “get you.” And you want them to be fun to work with, right?
  2. Know what you want: when you attend a networking event, what is it you want from the event? Contacts? Referrals? Ideas? Notice I didn’t say “job.” Unless of course you’re networking at a job fair. The goal for networking is to create relationships that can help you propel your career in the direction of your overall goals.
  3. Know what you bring to the table that no one else does– what makes you or your qualifications unique among your competitors? “I’m a people person” is not a unique skill set.
  4. Know your audience: who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals? Does this networking organization serve your audience? Does it have members who are your audience? If not, it’s probably not the group for you. What groups should you join? Join at least three types groups. 1) A peer group for brainstorming, education, commiserating, and more importantly for creating referral or alliance partners; 2) Prospects: a group that is your ideal target market or knows your ideal target market; 3) professional business group or leads group. Hiring decision-makers often Google your name before meeting with you. A professional organization can boost your online presence as they often have a membership listing on their website.
  5. Know that the more you give, the more you get. It’s not all about you. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up!™ How can you help your new contacts?
  6. Know how to start a conversation. Develop at least 3 open-ended questions you can ask a person in your new networking group. And it’s not: “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?”
  7. If you’re shy, know that it’s A-OK to team up with a friend to attend events and meet new people. Networking becomes easier when you can introduce your friend first and then yourself when meeting new people.
  8. Know when a group’s a great fit for your career goals – and when it is not. When you think about writing off a group, you want to think about how profitable the group is for you. And I don’t necessarily mean in terms of revenue. With some groups you’ll know after the first meeting it’s not a good fit; others take time to gel. For example, if you’re active in the group and meeting the right people, it may be a good fit. The goal is not to collect business cards; the goal is to build relationships that grow with you, your career, and your business. It comes down to this, if you are not building relationships in the group, and you’re just going for the food, it’s not a good fit. Follow up on those business cards.
  9. Know that in order to make the most of a group you’ve got to take an active role. Networking is more than just showing up. Joining a networking group is a commitment.
  10.  Know that networking is simply having a conversation with friends. Following these steps takes away the pain for your career gain.

Keep in mind, networking is a two-way street. A good networker gives to their network, maintains their network, and builds a positive, ongoing business relationship. Enjoy building your network and taking your career to the next level.


© 1998 – 2015 • Wendy J. Terwelp • All rights reserved.
Wendy Terwelp is president of Opportunity Knocks™ of Wisconsin, LLC, a career management and personal branding firm that helps you get hired faster and be a rock star at work. Learn how to rebuild your network 5 minutes a day with Wendy’s book, Rock Your Network® .

Easy 5-minute Tips to Make Your Network Thrive

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No time to network? Have you got five minutes?

Here are some quick tips to stay top of mind with your network and make it thrive.

1. Get Social: Set a specific purpose and time limit for your social media activities each day. This helps you avoid overwhelm or distraction (hey check out this link, which leads to that link, which leads to …). In your specified time frame, take a moment and tweet a reply to one of your followers. Have you read a great post on LinkedIn or Facebook? Hit the “like” button and share it with your connections.

2. Repurpose: Are you reading a great blog post or article you feel would benefit your network? Tweet a link or post a link to the story with a brief descriptor on LinkedIn or Facebook. Or if it’s relevant to only one or two people in your network versus the entire group, send a link to the story in an email: “Saw this article and thought you might find it helpful.”

3. Align networking with things you’re already doing: Going to a football game? Whether it’s the pros or your kids, game time is a great time to network. You’re sharing a common interest, which makes starting a conversation easy.

4. Make a plan: Going to a networking event or conference? Set a goal to meet at least three new people.

5. Create a dynamic, branded sound bite: Doing so helps you quickly address, “So, what do you do?” Check out chapter 5 of my book, Rock Your Network®, for a quick three-step formula to create a sound bite that helps you network with ease and confidence. Got a business? Shark Tank’s Daymond John says, you better be able to distill your brand down to two to five words. Are you ready for your next big gig?

Now that you have your networking plan, sound bite, and goals, you’re prepared for networking anytime, anywhere, I’d love to hear your networking stories and tips. Feel free to share in the comment section. Go get ’em!

© 1998 – 2014 | Wendy Terwelp . All rights reserved.

 

 

Recruiter LinkedIn Secret: Follow Companies Where…

George_Blomgren_med - picGuest Expert, George Blomgren,
MRA, The Management Association

The other day, a recruiter colleague shared a tip with me. He told me that when a candidate applies for a job with his company, if that candidate otherwise looks qualified, he looks to see if the candidate is following his company on LinkedIn. If not, he won’t consider that candidate.

Rather an extreme attitude, but it illustrates a best practice. Recruiters assume that the main reason you follow a company on LinkedIn is that you want to work there. Smart recruiters use their company’s followers on LinkedIn as the “low hanging fruit” for their hiring needs. Take a moment to follow the companies you want to work for!

Editor’s note: Great tip George! The same holds true if you want to get on a company’s radar for your business. And if you’re running a business and want to attract great employees, ensure your company has a company page on LinkedIn.

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has 20+ years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting),  MarComm, IT, and operations experience. 

Networking 101 – Starting Conversations

“I know networking is really important, but how do I get the conversation started?” said an attendee at one of my presentations. In the words of Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.”

Translation: Ask the new people you meet about themselves. When in a group or at a party, listen carefully to the conversation. See where you might be able to jump in. It may be something as simple as an exclamation, “You’re kidding me!” that gets the ball rolling.

I recommend preparing in advance of the event by setting networking goals and having at least three open-ended questions you can ask any person at the networking event.

Here are open-ended questions that encourage conversation:
1) What brings you to today’s meeting [event, conference, barbeque…]?
2) What one or two things would you like to take away from this event [conference, meeting, party…]?
3) What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

NEVER ask: “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” Or “Do you know anyone interested in buying [insert your product here]?”

If you’re at a business event, get a business card from the new contact and jot down some notes from the conversation. It can be as simple as, “Big Elvis fan.” That way, the next time you see the person or call the person, you can start the conversation with, “Hey, did you see the new 2-CD set that came out on Elvis? Has all the songs, plus a 32-page book. Cool.” Then, once they’ve exhausted their excitement of the big event, you can jump into the “real” conversation, “So, what’s going on at the office? Did they create that position we talked about at Bernadine’s Memorial Day party?”

Your goal is to create real and helpful connections, NOT close the deal on a job offer, nail the sale of your product or service or collect the most business cards in the room.

©2005 – 2012 | Wendy J. Terwelp | All rights reserved.

Job Action Day: Start Up – How to Network

For this year’s Job Action Day, I’m contributing to “Start Up.” According to Quintessential Careers, “Start Up” refers to the whole mindset of being the CEO of your career; having a portfolio of portable skills, a great network, flexibility, a project-mentality; not sitting at the computer visiting job boards, but getting out there, meeting people, and knocking on doors.

Get ready to take action.

In any economy, good times and bad, it’s important to take control of your career search and not rely on the “spray and pray” method—spraying your resume all over internet job boards, and praying someone calls you. By taking an active role in your career, you land a job by choice, not by chance. Won’t it be nice to control your career destiny?

While there are many methods to search for a job, the No. 1 method is to network. You will see networking tips for “getting out there, meeting people, and knocking on doors” below.

Additionally, you can contact companies directly via their company websites or via direct mail. Send your resume and cover letter to key decision-makers for your job target. Better, of course, is to network your way into the company through your personal contacts.

And finally, job boards. Job boards are the most passive way to search for a job. Per CareerXroads Source of Hire Report, March 2011, 24.9% of candidates are sourced through job boards.

My recommendation when using a job board: Use your professional organization’s job board first, like the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD’s) Job Bank (http://jobs.astd.org/) or the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA’s) Job Center (http://www.prsa.org/jobcenter/). Oftentimes jobs posted in a professional organization’s job bank are not posted elsewhere. If you wish to use the major job boards, I recommend doing a little investigative work. Read the job posting, and then see if you have a connection at the company or a contact whom you’ve identified has a connection (two degrees away). In this way, you will learn more about the organization through your connection and be able to create a warm referral to the appropriate decision maker. Do follow the job postings’ requirements and procedures; just use your connections to take your application to the next step.

Get Personal

Networking is simply the No. 1 way people land new jobs. In fact, according to CareerXroads Source of Hire Report, March 2011, “27.5% of hires are attributed to referrals. Referrals are the No. 1 Source of External Hires.” The study also states that “50.3% of all openings are filled through internal movement.” Internal movement counts as a referral. That means 77.8% of people are hired through people they know—their network.

How to Choose a Networking Group

When deciding upon joining a networking group, ask yourself the following questions: Who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals? Does this networking organization serve your target audience for your career goal? Does it have members who are your audience? If not, it’s probably not the group for you.

What groups should you join? Join at least three types of groups:
1. Peer group for brainstorming, education, commiserating, and more importantly for creating referral or alliance partners;
2. Prospects: a group that is your ideal target market or knows your ideal target market;
3. Professional business group or leads group, including professional associations, such as ASTD, PRSA, ISM, and others. Hiring decision-makers often Google your name before meeting with you. Being associated with a professional organization can boost your online presence.

Now that you’ve chosen your top three groups for in-person networking, make a plan. Take five minutes before each networking event to:
• Rehearse your sound bite
• Identify key players whom you would like to meet
• Make a goal to meet at least three new people

What to Say at Networking Events

Have at least three open-ended questions you can ask any person at the networking event.

Here are open-ended questions that encourage conversation:
1. What brings you to today’s meeting?
2. What one or two things would you like to take away from this event?
3. What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

Never ask: “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”

Your goal is to create real and helpful connections, NOT close the deal on a job offer or try to collect the most business cards in the room.

Let us know how this works for you and share your story! Good luck!

Want more help taking your job search to the next level? Check out “Rock Your Job Search™.” This program includes proven strategies including: How to Network Effectively Online; How to Ace the Interview; How to Negotiate the Offer and Get the Salary You Deserve, and much, much more. Includes: workbooks, audio, and extra bonuses. Enjoy!

® 2011 | Wendy Terwelp | Opportunity Knocks™ | All rights reserved.

What to Say at Networking Events

Tongue-tied at networking events? Here are some tips to start a conversation.

Have at least three open-ended questions you can ask any person at the networking event.

Here are open-ended questions that encourage conversation:
1) What brings you to today’s meeting?
2) What one or two things would you like to take away from this event?
3) What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

NEVER ask: “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”

Your goal is to create real and helpful connections, NOT close the deal on a job offer or try to collect the most business cards in the room.

Want more networking tips? Read, “Rock Your Network®”