For the second in a six-part series about stepping up your job search or job upgrade process, business coach Kate Hanley explains the importance of networking.
Last time, we talked about the importance of the calendar. What’s on the plate this week?
Networking. It’s one of the most important tools in the business of growing a business or establishing a career or just finding a job.
Please explain further.
Companies will hire people they know and trust first. Networking can take place in surprising places like your church or on your kid’s soccer field. Events that promote networking such as 6 Degrees San Diego or business meet-ups are an obvious place to meet potential employers, but there are many other avenues to connect with potential business prospects out there as well.
What would be the first step in getting serious about networking?
Look for groups to join that have members in your field of interest. Commit to scheduling at least two to three evenings or lunch events per week to network.
And what’s next?
Be ready for and aware of networking opportunities almost everywhere you go. Strike up conversations with people on planes, in line at the grocery store, at the sushi bar etc.…you never know where that next lead will be.
Why is this so important?
Networking is a full-time job. To grow your business or take that next step in your professional development you must dedicate your time to getting out there and growing comfortable with establishing contacts. Continuous practice makes networking easier over time.
What are some of the pitfalls/challenges you’ve seen your clients face in the implementation of this procedure?
Some of my clients are shy and have a fear of networking because they are forced out of their shell and must interact with people. With the shy people, we start with baby steps, making it a goal to meet two new people per day or have a three-minute, personal conversation with a stranger. From there, confidence grows, and in no time people are having productive conversations with potential business contacts, getting business cards, etc. It’s a quick transition once people get over the fear of “the approach” and learn how to strike up a conversation.
How about their successes?
A great example is one of my clients who would give her guy friends styling advice before they went out at night. When she decided to create a styling business, she asked one of the guys if he knew of anyone who might need her services. He made it a point to mention her whenever anyone commented on how good he looked. Today, she specializes as a style consultant and gets paid for what she loves to do.
My point is that with networking, that first initial contact will multiply.
Networking makes the world go around. If you trace many of your professional or personal successes back, you’ll note that they began with a connection…someone who you knew that recommended you for a position, or hired you directly. People need to get out of the house and circulate to increase their contact base, which then immensely increases their business success.
What additional advice would you give someone looking to implement their networking schedule?
Look at the various event opportunities for the next three months, put the events in your calendar and commit to going. Half the battle is showing up, but when you do, put a smile on your face and begin to interact, and in no time you’ll be networking like a pro.
You can contact Kate Hanley at firstname.lastname@example.org