Job Seekers often express discomfort about networking because they feel like they’re beggars for leads, referrals, and ideas. That sense comes from a misconception and mis-application of how great networking should work.
Finding ways to be of value to your contact makes the connection much more equitable and a professional give and take.
Job seekers doing a lot of effective networking in their search are inevitably building a very valuable collection of contacts. People in a wide variety of professions, in a variety of industries, at a number of companies, etc.
Some of those contacts may be a great resource to some of your new contacts!
Offering to help them reach out to people that would be helpful to them is a great value and a great way to reciprocate in the networking process.
Asking your networking contact what challenges they are facing in their position, in their company, or in their career may trigger a recollection of someone else that may have some insight, ideas, experience, or advice for their situation.
Asking what kinds of positions they are hiring for, even if it’s not for your background, may enable you to recommend others that may fit those other roles and help in their hiring process.
Asking about hobbies, sports and other favorite pastimes may bring to mind people with like interests that may be happy to meet others that participate in the same activities.
Asking a variety of questions about your contact will invariably lead to some ideas of how you can be a valued contact to them. Asking them about themselves gets them talking and makes you more interesting to them… people like to talk about themselves, and like people that give them the opportunity!
While networking may not be the most attractive part of a job search for most people, it can be a terrific way to build relationships, a valuable list of contacts, and a way to be of value to everyone you meet!
If your networking conversations are premised on a ‘give before you get’ philosophy, you’ll find them to be far more productive, and more enjoyable as well!