You hear it all the time, in order to get a job you should "network". Reach out to your "network". Network marketing, networking, social networks.... its as if the the word "network" has become the magic business catch phrase of our generation. I guess it makes sense. Its usually through people, that we get introduced to great Doctors, mechanics, lawyers, and restaurants. I mean, without our "network" of family, friends and associates, where would we be? How would we gauge how much we can trust this person or experience? At least we can put it into some readily available context when someone we know and trust says something about someone or some service.
Networking, makes sense. The thing of it that is somewhat broken, however, is that most people only go to their network when THEY need something. There in lies the rub.
I got an in-mail recently (which is like an email) from a Linkedin contact who responded to something I sent him maybe a year ago. He is an IT Director at a very well known company. Anyway, he starts the message by appologizing for not getting back to me sooner (one year). He also offers to introduce me around to a few hiring managers who might be looking for a recruiter. He then says that he's looking for a new opportunity which is why he's beeing doing more of a "deep dive" into his linkedin messages. Hrmmm. Ok, so when I contacted him for something, he completely ignored it but a year later now that HE needs something, he's responding and even offering to assist me.
I admit, when I contacted him originally, I was the one who needed something. However, in my defense, I regularly and continuouly try to network regardless of my own situation or needs. I think its good practice when you've got a few minutes to simply reach out to people and share something in common. When I'm actually recruiting on an open position then of course I specifically reach out to people I think might be interested. When I'm NOT working on a position, then I reach out to managers who might have hiring needs. When neither is the case, then I reach out to people who are generally within the sphere / industry / geographic region or who share some other commonality with me for the sake of expanding the "network". The idea is in the numbers. The larger the scope of the network, the more likely you are to run across someone you can connect with or share a common interest or in this case, make a business deal happen.
However, some people flat out reject networking. They think its some dirty thing you do to use people. They think somehow you're going to infultrate their inner circle of trust and break relationships and lie and cheat your way into their world. I guess on some imaginary level I can understand the need to protect what you hold as valuable. Actually, I kind of respect that. I mean how many Facebook "friends" do you have? Are they really "friends"? I digress. On the other hand, how can you actually grow unless you allow yourself to experience new things, new people, new situations? You have to take a chance.
Anyway, networking...... do you do it often? Do you value networking even when YOU yourself don't have a present need?
My rules of thumb.
1. Always Be Networking.
2. If you don't have a need, then perhaps you'll connect with someone who will help you when you do have one in the future.
3. If you do have a need, perhaps you can reach someone who can help you now.
4. Either way, perhaps you'll connect with someone who YOU might be able to help or who might be able to help someone you know.
5. If nothing else, perhaps you can enrich your understanding and simply learn to embrace new ideas.
If you want to connect, find me on linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuaylee and ask me to connect. I'll likely accept. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com