Good afternoon! Justin O’Keeffe from Talentforce Recruitment continuing our mission to help parents who are returning to work or simply after more family-friendly or flexible roles.
Today we’re going to talk about this dreaded topic that most people I know, including myself, absolutely dread – the whole concept of networking and what it all is about. And the switch really flicked with me on the topic of networking a number of months ago when somebody, I was talking to someone about this and said networking isn’t what we all think what’s happening in the 80’s when it was power dressing and shoulder pads and business cards. So when you think of it in that context it’s extremely daunting, it’s extremely intimidating. And what I prefer to use is – we should really probably just ban this word and really, what we should do is just refer to it and think about simply going out and talking to people. Talking to people like ourselves.
So, if we think about it, networking is a concept, a lot of baggage associated with it, but if we simply say we’re just talking to people, talking to people like ourselves, that’s something we do. It’s something we do occasionally, something we’ve done all our professional lives. Now, the question is where do you start if networking isn’t something you’ve been doing for a long time? And what we would suggest is networking and talking to people is the opposite of passiveness, it’s all about getting out, talking to people, telling them a story. And what we would suggest doing is start with a list, thinking about who would you talk to? Friends, family, perhaps people that you’ve spoken with in the past who would be willing to have a discussion with you.
Now, the next topic is thinking about what it is that you’re trying to achieve from each of your discussions? And it can simply be career advice, doing market research, understanding companies – but it’s very important to think about is who to talk to, who would help me achieve my goals not who to help me, who to give me a job? Cause people, when you come to them looking for a job, the bias go up. So who to talk to, who to discuss the market, who to give the advice. And when you’re thinking about it, when you’re asking me for advice, it’s actually a compliment – you’re saying you are somebody I respect and I admire, whose insights I’m looking for.
So, for each of your discussions, for each of your conversations you need to have an aim – what is that I’m trying to achieve by speaking with this person? Now, often what you find is, and we would honestly suggest talking, starting with people who are most accessible to you: neighbors, family, friends, people you’ve done favors for in the past, people whom you’ve helped get jobs in the past. So start with the low-hanging fruit and really in many cases you’re not after actually those folks helping you, it’s them opening up their network and helping you and giving you suggestions on who they suggest that you talk to. So it’s the multiplier factor that you’re constantly looking for.
So, starting with the low hanging fruit and then perhaps have a think about what’s the best format for this sort of discussion? So the idea is to sit down, meet somebody for 20, 25, 30 minutes. That is the idea, in person really, really is superior. Obviously second best is the phone – it’s better than not meeting and really, email is essentially last resort. So the more personal the contact, the better. If someone hasn’t got time to talk to you, so be it. That’s often the case it is.
Now, when it comes to meeting someone, you need to give yourself the time to do it. To get in, to meet with them in person, to not be hassled, to not be late. And to schedule it we would often suggest email as the first introduction, followed up with a phone call. Say so and so, I was speaking with a friend of mine who suggested you might help me. So organize it, to call and ambush, email is probably best. Where to meet someone? We would try and suggest meeting someone informally, if it’s – calling it a favor. But if it’s in someone’s office, so be it. It can easily turn into a job interview. And then afterwards, have a think about should you follow up? And we would say absolutely, absolutely you should follow up. People appreciate that, it’s really not done often enough in our experience – people think the transaction is over. So very, very much thinking about networking instead of thinking about it as talking – think about it as it’s going to be something that happens again. If you ever go to a networking event you’ll see people who are just amazing, they’re just going around the room and the reason they’re like that and have that confidence is they don’t before. And they know that at the next networking event or talking event that they’re going to meet these same people again. So it’s not a one-off game, this is repeat and it’s all about practice and going out and talking to people.
So, networking very much about starting low, starting with the people that are accessible to you, getting out, talking to them, doing your preparation, have an aim and it’s all about confidence and building momentum. Hope this helps as you get out and talk to people – feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 019-081514; we’re always speaking to companies who are open to flexible working or great candidates who are looking for more flexible jobs. Thanks so much, take care, bye-bye!