As we read in the last article on this column, networking is what most people would rather avoid because of the way it has turned out when they tried to do it. This we said is due largely to the lack of knowledge of how to go about it.
This article focuses on how you can simplify your networking drive. Do not forget that we have established the fact that networking is key to your success in the hidden job market.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, your networking drive may still go awry. One of the problems with extroverted people is the challenge they have focusing on the person in front of them because they are anxious to see who next is available to be met. They are therefore unable to build a solid foundation with the contacts and sometimes they leave the contact with a bad impression of themselves.
Introverts on their own part sometimes see networking as putting forward pretense in order to get what you want from people. Some literature we have around on networking have even compounded the problem for the introverts. Some of the introverts find it difficult and unnatural of them to use those introductory statements that we have been taught in these literature. Another challenge with the introverts is the inability to sustain a conversation. They can start with the introductory statements and the next thing, especially when response from the contact is not what was envisaged, is to run into a grave silence because they do not know how to continue to engage.
Networking requires an approach that is driven by integrity and that is based on values. It must be established on a perception of win-win in which both parties benefits from the relationship. It must be done with a mindset that transcends immediate gratification to building an enduring relationship that will last through your entire career. It is better done with a positive attitude.
To simplify your networking initiative, you have to be yourself first. You may be out of job or what you are doing currently is not pleasant to you. You should not draw your strength from this. You must know who you are in the absence of a job or a job title. You are not less of a human being or inferior because you are out of job.
This is the first battle that you must win in your networking drive otherwise you may approach it with a beggarly attitude and put yourself at a disadvantage.
You are having a conversation with people like you so engage in an authentic way. What you bring to the market place should make you feel comfortable with whoever you are speaking with. You lose your confidence when you know that you don’t have any value to add, you are more likely to approach the networking meeting with a servile attitude.
We are in a small world in which what goes around comes around.
To simplify your networking drive, you need to behave yourself. I once had an experience that taught me that it is good to always do well; you never can tell who can be of help to you in life. People are seeing you when you are not looking. Be nice to everyone you meet, be thankful for every little thing done for you, don’t look down on people. Remember that every friend was once a stranger, so treat that stranger well. He / she may be your boss tomorrow or may be the one to connect you to your potential employer.
You may probably not have come across these basic principles in some of the literatures you have read on networking, but dear friend, these are universal truth that you cannot discard because they operate by the law of cause and effect.
The importance of relationship is underlined in the Ten Commandments. Six out of the ten laws is centered on relationship with other people while the remaining four focus on relationship with God. The way you relate with people now is a seed you are sowing for the future and you will certainly reap what you have sown. Imagine that the only person who can help you facilitate a meeting with your potential employer is that same guy you have been inhuman to at a previous time, how would you feel approaching the person? How to say ‘I am sorry’ to the people you have wronged in time past is not one of the skills you want to learn now because it is absolutely unnecessary for your job search.
All the networking techniques that you have learnt or will learn will only be effective if you respect the sanctity of humanity.
A good understanding of how networking works is also an essential ingredient in simplifying your networking initiative. Understand the principles first and devise a way that makes it work for you. One size usually does not fit all; you have to know what works for your contact and your situation. Read widely on networking, attend seminars on it and distil what you are taught to suit your personality.
I wish you success in your networking initiative.
Akindele Afolabi is a Career Management Consultant with Career Edge Limited. He helps organisations and individuals to take ownership of their career management initiatives.