Stop thinking of networking as a chore. And stop thinking that sharing your job search with your network will get back to your boss.
Learning to network the right way, authentically and mutually-beneficially, will go far to help you conduct a discreet and successful search.
Networking doesn’t have to be “something you’re not very good at,” (I’ve heard this statement a million times). And it shouldn’t be something you do only when you’re looking for a job. Please stop approaching networking as a pushy or fake exercise that’s only required when you’re looking for a job.
Authentic networking is something you do every day, from asking your favorite barista how they are doing to calling a vendor to negotiate a purchase. Networking is all about relating and when it comes to a job search, especially a discreet one, you want to have those authentic relationship building skills honed and ready to go.
I get it. When you want to keep your search on the down low, it’s important to not blast out to the world you need their support. But if you’ve already built your supportive network, including your trusted colleagues, a few discreet conversations can open the door for exciting, unadvertised opportunities.
Here’s eight networking tips for connecting to your network community without clueing everyone in on your job search:
- Network now. Over 70% of career opportunities result from networking. Over 73% of promotions result from establishing a strong connection with the decision maker. One of the most important rules of networking is to conduct mutually beneficial networking all the time and not just when you want a new job. If you wait until it’s time for a change, people may be suspicious or feel “used.”
- Know who you can trust. Sometimes the people we think we know best, surprise us. This is not a time to take chances with confidences. If you absolutely must tell someone at work that you are looking for a new job, make sure this person is willing, and in a position, to keep your secret.
- Build valued connections. Two things that everyone wants to know when networking: Do I like this person? and Does this person have something I need or could they help me (or my company) in anyway? Whether you like it or not, this is the basis for starting all conversations. Upon meeting someone at a professional networking event, if you cannot confidently respond “Yes” to both queries, the conversation is probably over. You always want to leave your network wanting more.
- Be genuinely likable. So now flip the tables. How can you ensure the person that you meet will feel as positive about you? What do you need to say and how do you need to behave in order to ensure your networking is a success? Be genuine and likable. And even though your job search can be frustrating at times, don’t let others see any negativity. Bring the best version of your professional self to every interaction.
- Take care when you share. Sharing ‘sensitive’ information with others can feel cathartic but it can also put others in a precarious position. If a colleague doesn’t know you’re looking they won’t have to lie when asked.
- Talk to your mentor. This is one of the most valuable and trusted resources in your network who can pave the way for fruitful introductions. The fact is, you need to network in order to grow your career and your trusted mentor, or hopefully, mentors, can help you connect with others.
- Craft conversations wisely. Networking during a job search doesn’t mean “asking for opportunities,” it means asking for information, advice and offering to help. Enhance your communication skills while you’re looking, so you can bring your best to each conversation. Building conversations and relationships is what networking is all about. If networking seems disingenuous or discomforting in anyway, it’s time to change your approach.
- Don’t stop networking. Though you should be cautious, don’t stop networking because you fear retaliation. But also, don’t waste all your time off on your networking and job search. When you work with a career coach, together you can design and launch a thoughtful job search plan that is streamlined and effective and doesn’t overwhelm you. This, coupled with authentic networking is still the most valuable resource for finding great careers.
My clients know how to successfully network and present themselves as an opportunity rather than a project or pest. What about you? Mindfully consider how you present yourself when networking. If you’ve struggled, or if you’ve historically avoided networking because of your fear of these mental queries, let’s turn this around.
I want to help you take the “work” out of networking and be able to confidently, authentically and easily make networking work for you!
How to Be Career Happy? Approach Networking Like a Pro