Five Networking Mantras for Job Seekers I lost my full-‐time job five months ago, and have slowly and painfully developed my networking skills. It has been a rewarding journey and I have learned more while looking for a job than I may have ever learned in just doing my job. Here is what I have learned: 1. Networking happens all the time. Be prepared for the unexpected. There is no script or formula. When you meet someone and connect with them, let them know you are looking for a job. You’ll be surprised at how quickly people want to help. Be genuine. Two months ago, at my favorite café, I struck up a casual conversation with a woman on the adjoining table. She happened to be looking for employment herself. As we chatted, another woman by our table joined the conversation and shared she was also in the job market. It led to us connecting over coffee, LinkedIn, and FaceBook. We formed a Professional meet up group and held a very successful networking mixer, which led to contract work for several people including myself. 2. Don’t be pushy or exude desperation. Don’t hand out your business cards at a casual meeting or email your resume unless requested. Ask to meet a contact first or have a conversation on the phone before sending your resume. Even better, email a link to your complete LinkedIn profile if you need to provide a quick overview. 3. Be prepared to learn new things in this phase of your life. Ultimately, these are the building blocks for landing on your feet. Consider all your activities, such as attending a lecture, researching a topic of interest for an interview, a yoga class as pathways that are expanding your networking world and adding knowledge and information that will be useful on your journey. For example, recently, I snagged a 30-‐minute meeting with the CMO of a leading software company. Before the meeting, I surfed his company blog and realized that one of the topics closest to his heart was the power of social media in impacting how corporations communicate with their customers. I spent several hours researching and reading articles on the internet. Not only was I able to hold my own in our conversation but I also have been able to use the knowledge in other networking situations. 4. Build relationships for the long-term. Network, network, network. According to Jerry McCreary, the networking guru, who formed a networking group called Coach-‐onthego on LinkedIn, the best breakdown of your time is 90% networking and 10% applying for jobs. Keep logs, invite people for
coffee, and invest time in these relationships. Help other people along the way. It is hard to put yourself out there but it gets easier with practice and you will find the gold at the end of the road. Here are some statistics from my own case: Time elapsed since losing full-‐time position 5 months Number of online applications 70 Number of interviews from online applications 1 Number of part-‐time contracts from networking 5 Informational meetings/interviews from networking 25 Connections on LinkedIn at beginning of networking 32 Connections on LinkedIn at present time 137 5. Don’t take it personally when you’re reaching out. Don’t look for instant returns. Sow the seeds. The harvest comes much later. People will help you but not always in the way you expected. The rejection letter or the no-‐ response to a networking request should be a stimulus for you to reach out again, strengthen your resolve, and go out and network more! Consider this time in your life as an opportunity that needs to be developed patiently and positively. Keep yourself open to the possibilities out there and they shall come. If you live in the Silicon Valley, email me at Pushpinder.firstname.lastname@example.org to meet up for coffee!