Outplacement firms usually state an executive level role will take between 200-250 networking meetings. I know… holy ____________ (insert your favorite term). Depending on the level of role and competitiveness, the number of network meetings will vary by person.
If you work a plan of networking, you will find that you will hit 100 networking meetings before you know it. I hit 200 meetings in just over six months, but it all started in Week #1.
My week #1: I met five people. Each of my contacts gave me three names on average. So in five days, I generated fifteen potential meetings.
You can see where this is going. 3 X 15. That’s 45. Of course, not every contact you get works out (see Expectation #5), but you’ll fill your calendar quickly. Your biggest challenge will be managing getting the right type of meetings. (See “Roadmap to the Hiring Manager” and “Four Point System”)
Expectation setting #1: Getting the ‘numbers’ of networking meetings will happen faster than you think.
When I worked, I did not make networking a priority in my calendar. Sure I did some, but I mainly filled my day with everything else. My help to individuals in transition was even less.
Having been in transition, now my approach to networking has forever changed, but it was after, not before.
As you reach out, you’ll find loads of people like I was: Never through transition, low value on networking, etc.
Expectation setting #2: These folks can still help you, but you need to be persistent and guide them on how they can help you.
#3 – Networking creates value beyond yourself
How many people do you meet that say “I am too busy to network”? Maybe it’s easier to ask who has kept their network up-to-date (assuming they have a network at all).
If you are actively networking, you can offer a great deal of value to both yourself and the people you meet. Simply because you are out there making connections while they are in the office. You are keeping up to date with the new tools, networking groups, etc.
You are likely making connections that they can use to help build their business or even help them find another job. I made over 250 business-to-business connections when there was mutual business value for both parties. (See “Using the 80% Rule of Networking)
Expectation setting #3: Just because you are looking for a new role (whether employed or not) don’t go into a meeting with your hat in your hand, you are bring something of great value to the table.
Here is the biggest mistake I made in my first job search. From minute one, I should have assumed the practices and behavior of a Rainmaker. Because in the end, a search is about making a sale: That you are the one for the job.
From what you sell, who to sell to, how to get decision makers, etc. – the practices of a good sales person are very helpful.
FINDING YOUR BUYER. #1 above is true, but all of that networking needs to have a purpose: Getting yourself known to decision makers (or the people who will hire you). Even if you go through a recruiter or on-line, you want to get inside the company and get known.
Expectation setting #4: Read about the sales and closing process, I happen to favor the simple style of Jeffrey Fox – focus on the intent of each step outlined in “How to become a Rainmaker” or whatever book suits you.
Another statistic that outplacement firms often use is helpful in setting your expectations: 80% of jobs come through networking and 20% through recruiters.
Not every company follows the average. So you need to understand the company’s hiring practices for the position you seek. But in general, it is networking, especially with people who know your skills that make it happen.
Expectation setting #5: Dedicate your time based on who can connect you to a job
Every resume is on best behavior. Everyone is a leader that contributed to growth through strategic thinking, built a team, and earned the company millions.
In short, 100% of resumes present people in the top 10% of performers. Of course, we know that’s not true. Sadly, some people deserve to be in transition, while others had no choice (sale of firm, etc.). Problem is you cannot always tell who is telling the truth about why they are in transition.
Expectation setting #6: The risk adverse will simply avoid any one in transition. Not wanting to chance it, they go for those still employed. If you run into those folks, don’t invest too much time.
Two ideas to help overcome the stigma:
- LinkedIn recommendations from your peers and bosses at your last firm – there’s something to be said when people make them so public
- Find people who know you well to make introductions or call on your behalf – the value of the their relationship with the person whom you intend network will help them see past the in-transition status
No matter how strong the referral or relationship, some people will simply not respond. They are too busy, do not think they can help you, do not like to network, or maybe they do not really like the person referring you, etc. There are a myriad of reasons over which you have no control or no knowledge of when you reach out to them.
So be professional and persistent, but if they do not respond after three tries, just move on.
Expectation setting #7: Expect the reject, just don’t take it personally.
Here’s something I did right from the start, I assumed control of all aspects of my search. It’s not that I did not rely upon anyone or ask for help. I made sure that I was responsible for every aspect of the search.
Expectation setting #8: You plan, you schedule, you meet, you take notes, you follow-up. Repeat. No wait, you repeat. Oh yeah, you find a job!
In short, they forget to be short. When I kicked off my search I was convinced that my e-mail was to the point, informational, and would elicit a positive response.
The only response I got was that people were surprised it got through their e-mail size filter. Okay, I’ll admit it was too long. See the Toolkit for “Networking e-mail Template” for my improved version.
People tend to send long e-mails, expect immediate call backs, getting a meeting scheduled this week, include more detail that you would have ever read when you were working.
Expectation setting #9: When you reach out to network, remember how busy you were when you worked and act accordingly. Focus your communication to accomplish its intent and no more.
I chaired a networking group for finance executives and attend a few others and see what I call the ‘100 Day Wall”. After about three months, people get very frustrated with networking and the lack of results. I have seen many who jump into a contract or full-time role that lower than their skill level – just so they get off the networking circuit.
Most of these folks were starting their networking from scratch or had limited networks. If you are in a similar situation, expect to hit that wall. But take heart, those 100 days are going to start to pay off soon – so just keep working the plan.
Expectation setting #10: If you hit the 100 day wall, use your networking plan to climb over it
A workmate of mine once spoiled his trip to DisneyWorld by keeping track of how much his family of four spent on diet soda (which was $400 over a week). He said he missed everything that was good.
So if you simply focus on being out of a job, you will miss the experiences that can make networking an enriching experience.
Think of this way, when you again take this much time to meet so many people again. Not when you are working. So at least find time to enjoy your contacts experiences.
One of my favorite is John Geenan. John is a motivational speaker, but his is also a Jack Nicholson impersonator. We went to lunch and John came in character, it was hilarious as the servers kept coming up with different lunches (well after we had ours) just to see if it was really Jack Nicholson at their restaurant.
Expectation setting #11: Enjoy the people you meet, you may not get this chance again.
#12 – It’s not all new out there – more in common than you might think
One concern at the start of my networking was being to understand all of the industries, companies and services that I would encounter. I was rather tentative in my initial meetings in expressing ideas, etc. – which I now see really held back my ability to express how I could help a company.
Thankfully, I soon realized that there was more in common than I expected. There were very specific industry rules, jargon and regulation, but as I continued even those seemed pretty straightforward in their logic.
So learn from my mistake and start self-confident. Do your homework and you’ll figure it out.
Expectation setting #12: There are 2-3 key principles that drive a business. Sort those out before you meet someone – it will be worth the investment.