When most people think of networking, they think of big rooms filled with strangers discussing business. We have to remember that networking can take on any form at any place with anyone. Why are you networking wrong then? Because you are too focused on people you don’t know instead of people that you do know.
While I don’t want to discount the power of networking with strangers; it is equally important to network within your network. However, if you network wrong, it can hurt your chances; even if it is someone you know. Let’s dive in…
Networking is sales. Unfortunately, unless you are/were in sales, you were not trained for it. In today’s job market, you need to be an effective salesperson in order to have effective networking. So many people are focused on the “gimme gimme gimme” mentality instead of focusing on the fostering of the relationship. When you focus on the “gimme gimme gimme”, people view you as ungrateful and thus undeserving. People believe that because they know someone, they are entitled to helping them find a job.
There is a way around this however. You can change your “gimme gimme gimme” attitude into one that believes in fostering relationships. The networking that I want you to focus on are your immediate contacts. With those contacts, instead of asking them if they know someone or if they can refer you to something, ask them to become a referral during your job searching journey. By asking them to become a referral, you are in theory telling them that you are looking for your next opportunity. People are smart enough to put two-and-two together and will think if they can or want to help you further.
Again, I do not want to discredit the power of networking with people you do not know, however, put a stronger focus on the people you do know, just play it smart. Nobody wants to help someone who is just looking for handouts and now you don’t need to be that person. Now you know one more secret to networking that you can get you that much closer to your next job.