Issue 12, July 6, 2009 —
Julie Cohen, Networking is Not a Dirty
In this issue:FEATURE: Steve Pavlina, How to Build Your Power Guy Finley, Ten Causes of Needless Heartaches Sharon Elaine, Write Your Own Affirmations Verusha Singh, If Pigs Did Fly Chuck Gallozzi, Unlocking the Power of Words Julie Cohen, Networking is Not a Dirty Word Sally Tippett Rains, Get Going! Wider Screenings, Disney's Family?EventsReviewsEarlier issues
Networking is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Cohen
into a room filled with people. You look left. You look right. All you
see are dozens of people wearing "Hi, My Name is ________ " badges. You
panic. You want to run and hide. "I don't want to make small talk with
these strangers," you cry to yourself. But alas, you're here, at the
dreaded networking event. Anxiety sets in. You want to go home and
never go to another networking event again.
It doesn't have to be this way. We all make excuses for not networking:
"I don't want to sell myself," "I don't want to impose on anyone," "It
feels sleazy," "I hate small talk." There are many more excuses, but
they all miss the point: Networking is a valuable tool that enhances
your job search, your career advancement, and enables you to find a
satisfying and rewarding career path and more. Overcoming the
resistance to networking is crucial to your career, job search, and
In every area of your professional life, having colleagues, mentors,
advocates and/or teachers benefits you. These individuals make up your
network. They offer insight into challenges, connections with other
professionals, an inside perspective of an organization or support
during a crisis. There are a multitude of areas where you need and use
networking, from your job search to giving back to your community; and
you may already be networking without realizing it. Read below to
understand how networking works in everyday situations, and how to make
it work for you.
Essential to Your Job Search
This use of networking is one that we're most familiar with. Whether
you are unemployed or want a move from your current employer to a new
organization, the assistance of others is critical. When hundreds of
resumes are submitted for one position, having a personal endorsement
or recommendation can get you the interview. Differentiating yourself
from a pool of resumes shows your value to a potential employer. Also,
when you speak directly with the hiring authority, as opposed to Human
Resources or a Recruiter, you get an inside track to the hiring process.
Networking in this case starts with letting your close friends and
family know you're in the job market and clearly defining for them what
type of work you're looking for and the people you'd like to meet.
Then, you ask for an introduction or contact information with
permission to use them as a referral.
Making new contacts are much easier when your friend Bob connects you:
"Mr. X, my colleague Bob encouraged me to call you to discuss Widgets
International. I would appreciate a few minutes to talk to you about
your company and my experience." With each contact, be sure to
follow-up with a request for additional contacts as well as with a
thank you note.
The networking naysayer is thinking: "I don't want to impose on Bob.
Why would he want to connect me with his colleague? I don't have any
connections useful for him." The networking pro knows that any
connection is a valuable connection, whether or not you receive an
immediate benefit. Most people enjoy connecting people they respect
with others, and view the introduction as an opportunity to provide
benefits for two people at once. It reflects well on the referrer if
it's a good match, everyone involved is thankful for the referrer's
awareness and kindness.
You're doing well in your job, you like the company you work for and
you want more. You want more challenges, more opportunities, and more
compensation. You're ready to move to the next step professionally.
Your boss constantly acknowledges your work and is very supportive, but
she is not the only one who makes the promotion decisions.
This is where networking impacts the promotion process. When the
decision to promote is being made you want everyone, especially
decision makers, within your organization to know about you, the work
you do and the contributions you make. Your direct reports, colleagues
and supervisor think highly of you, but do others outside of your
How do you get people to know and endorse you if you don't work with
them regularly? Here are just a few examples:
Volunteer for projects that extend out of your department
Seek internal training opportunities that expand your knowledge in
other areas of the company's business
Attend brown-bag lunches on topics that aren't directly related to your
work and ask insightful questions
Write a white paper on a topic which requires you to research other
areas of your organization and ask to distribute it or present it
Attend an occasional social event and introduce yourself to someone who
is doing work you're curious about.
These examples are planting seeds and each can grow in to an
opportunity to allow others to learn who you are and how you enhance
We can hear the naysayer: "This will never work," "It requires too much
time and energy and takes me away from my job," "I'm not good at
The networking pro knows that this process isn't in addition to your
job - this is essential to moving ahead. You build time into your week
to learn, connect and share. This isn't schmoozing, this is being
genuine and curious, and therefore makes connections that are easy to
Build Your Business
If you're a small business owner or entrepreneur, networking can have a
critical impact on your business and bottom line. You already know that
you want everyone to know about your product or service and it's
benefits, and networking helps bring this to fruition. As a business
owner myself, I had the feared vision of attending a "networking
meeting" with 40 strangers trying to figure out how to give them all my
business card. I didn't want to do that and I never have.
The way to use networking in this capacity is to find the activities
and actions that fit with you, your business and your preferences. If
you enjoy being in a crowd and introducing yourself to others, find
lead groups and professional networking groups where you can mix and
mingle. If you prefer one-on-one connections, arrange coffee or lunch
meetings where you can share your business and provide something useful
to your contact. And, if you prefer not to leave your office, you can
utilize various networking websites (LinkedIn, Ryze, Ecademy) to help
build your word-of-mouth..
The naysayer is moaning, "I hate this I want to work in my business,
not doing this stuff that pulls me away from what I do best." The pro
knows if you don't get the word out about your business, it likely
won't be around in the future. And, in order to keep up with this, you
need to find methods that match with your personality and preferences
in order to actually enjoy it.
You love your work and are feeling professionally satisfied - but you
want a bigger impact. You want to share your knowledge beyond your
department, company, profession or community and get recognition for
your accomplishments. Whether you want to grow a business, get media
coverage, run for elected office or become a star, the more people that
know about you and your expertise, the more likely this will happen.
Once you are clear on the value you can provide, you take a similar
path as stated above regarding promotion. This time, though, your
targets will be broader. Look for opportunities to connect with other
experts in your field or related fields, find professional associations
who are interested in your knowledge, and speak with journalists that
write about your expertise. As with all networking, provide them with
something useful - information, presentations or other connections -
and they will want to do the same for you.
The expert naysayer claims, "I'm too big for this they should come to
me." The pro knows that until you're Martha Stewart, Tiger Woods or
Bill Gates, you may have to work to expand your reach, enhance your
credibility and become famous.
This time, it's not about you, your career or expanding your reach.
It's about making a difference to someone else, your community or your
world. Although networking and community service may sound in
opposition, they go hand-in-hand. You may need to ask others for time,
money, advocacy or information sharing. You need to spread the word
about how you're helping others, so others can support you in the work
Networking in this capacity means getting the word out about your
passion, commitment and vision. Whether you're going to clean up a
neighborhood park, help underprivileged children in your city or change
national policy, you will want involvement from others. The best way to
do this is to ask those who know you and your mission.
The giving naysayer says, "My cause is important enough that I
shouldn't have to ask of others." The pro knows that in order to get
your cause funded and your dream fulfilled, you can't do it alone. The
pro wants to tell everyone about their cause, because if you show
others your problem you'll have more hands to help fix it.
What do all of the scenarios have in common? Networking is a tool that
provides you access to people and resources that can support you in
getting what you want. When it is only about YOU, getting what YOU
want, the above naysayer may have some points.
Through the above examples, you can see networking is a service.
Networking is something you provide to others, to help them while
helping you attain goals. It is a give-and-take process that creates a
better situation for all involved. A job searcher is connected with an
employer, filling both party's needs. A deserved promotion occurs
highlighting the connector's ability to match resources to needs. Your
business grows while providing valuable service. Your reputation grows
while sharing your expertise to help others.
When I ask clients how they would feel if a friend, colleague or
acquaintance asked them for assistance in any of the above situations,
their response is always "Of course, I'd be happy to help them."
Remembering what you would do for others is important to keep in mind
as you embrace networking.
When you next think about networking, ask yourself these questions:
What value or service can I provide while asking for assistance?
What type of interaction feels most comfortable to me regarding
How can I incorporate the service of networking into my daily or weekly
How can I stay curious and have fun with the people I want to meet?
How do I feel if someone else was asking me this same networking
If you feel comfortable with your answers to these questions,
networking becomes a resource and a pleasure. Explore and have fun! ###
Julie Cohen, PCC, is a Career Coach. She helps her clients clarify and
achieve their professional and personal goals including greater career
satisfaction, life balance, leadership development and personal growth.
For questions, comments or to discuss this article, Julie can be
reached by visiting Julie Cohen Coaching. http://www.juliecohencoaching.com
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