Tending to Your Career Network

career networkTending to Your Career Network

I was talking with a client today.  She was feeling overwhelmed by the number of people she needed to add to her career network (you need at least 400) and what it would take to really be known, remembered, liked and trusted by these (current) strangers.

Of course it takes time

It does take quite a bit of time to build a career network, especially if you have not been working on it for some time.  First you have to identify the people you want in it, then connect with them for the first time and prove that you are someone they want to know.  Then you need to keep up with them over time.

The number of times that you connect with/contact them is higher when you are looking for a job, but you have to give them reason to want to hear from you.  You can’t ask a stranger to give you a job right away.  That would be too much like accosting a stranger on the street and demanding that they buy something expensive from you.  You don’t want a “pity” job; you want the right job and respect to go with it.

So how do you show that you are worthy of respect in your field and to your (potential) colleagues?

What do they need that you can supply?

You give them something that they want.  There are the universals like attention and respect, information they want and introductions to others, and…(Did I mention attention?)   And there are things specific to the problems they are currently encountering. They might need that link to the paper written by someone who has already solved their problem, or the YouTube link to “how to …..” or the name of your barber, or????

If you give four times before you ask for anything, the natural human response is to want to “keep things even” and they will feel like giving you something.  But don’t ask for something that costs them too much.  Asking for a job is too much (unless you are in an interview).  They may not have the ability to hire, or they may simply not want to risk their own reputation by presenting someone (you) whose work they don’t really know. So ask for things that are “no skin off their nose”, like “how do you like working at XYZ company?”  “What is it like to work for your boss?”  “How are things going with the FDA?” “Do you think that you will stay here long-term?”  Other opinions that they can give without fear.

Is this the right company?

The answers to these questions will tell you if their company is good for you, but more important, you have added someone to your career network for the rest of your career.

Reconnecting

So once you have your next job, how often should you reconnect?  I think that once a year is the minimum.  If most or all of the people in your career network are on LinkedIn, you can use the “Keep in Touch” button and say “Congrats” on your new job or work anniversary or Happy Birthday.  You can also use the Tags feature in Connections and send out holiday greetings to groups of up to 50 people at one time.  Of course there are other tools – Plaxo, emailers like MailChimp or aWebber, or even just your own Outlook.    I spend less than 5 minutes a day on the Keep In Touch button on LinkedIn and I have over 4,000 connections. Of course not all of them have put their birthday in there.

Remember that you have to keep on giving in order to get.  Staying in touch and reconnecting regularly will ensure that you are remembered when someone with your skill set is needed.  If you have been kind and giving, you will be liked.  Trust takes more time.

Want to join us for a free webinar on how to network and follow up?

 

How to Fail at Job Search

 

Revised 4/20/17

 

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Comments

  1. Julie Heffelfinger says

    I have known Connie for over a year as a client – she is spot on! Through her program/advice I reached out to a director in a federal agency to learn more about their culture, learn how I could assist them and determine whether or not I wanted to apply for employment with them. After only a couple discussions I received a message from the director asking for MY assistance. He needed to be introduced to someone in my network, someone I have known for 15 years, and was critical to his career goals. Within two days they were connected and the director was on his way to his next steps in his career. I received a very thankful email from him which included the words “I’m impressed” (I think I surprised him). I was able assist him in a way that he will always remember and expand my network. Although I’m choosing not to explore employment with them, the more people I know the better and someday he might be able to return the favor.

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