By: John P. Carvana, Life Purpose, Career and Relationship Coach
“It’s not what you know, or who you know…it’s who knows you!” Over the course of my career I’ve come to believe that if employees were to make that statement to themselves every day on the way to work they would find themselves getting more done and enjoying work more. Fact is, however, that most employees don’t realize the value of that statement until they’ve been “let go”, “re-engineered” or just plain “fired”.
Networking is the cornerstone of success. Even if you never get fired. Here’s why: think about a successful person you know. Got one? Great! Now do you think that person became successful on their own? Of course not! Everyone who has ever been or ever will be successful has, at some point in their life, stood on the shoulders of others. Not in a punitive or mean-spirited way. Rather, in a supportive way.
I like Dr. Phil. To me, he makes common sense… sensible. Yet, for all his talent and gifts even he will acknowledge that were it not for Oprah, he would not be enjoying the kind of celebrity status he now has (and deserves!). Success is not something one can do alone. Everyone needs someone at some point that can help them get from where they are to where they want to be. It’s jus that simple (thanks again, Dr. Phil).
So rather than wait for the hammer to fall on your head, if you’re currently employed and you’re not networking every single day of the week, then you’re name had better be the one on the storefront. If you’re unemployed and you don’t know the value of networking, then that may be another reason why you’re unemployed. No man is an island. No man stands alone!
Here are some tips for those who fall on either end of the employment / unemployment spectrum. I can almost guarantee that these tips will make the worksite more meaningful for those of you who are employed, and will hasten the process of getting hired for those of you who are seeking. Ready?
Rule #1: Make networking something that you do everyday for the life of your career and not just a practice to follow either occasionally or between jobs. If you don’t take away anything from this article, remember this. There is a reason why this is Rule #1
Rule #2: Work at maintaining positive relationships. My grandmother used to tell us, “People judge you by the company you keep. Show me the crowd of people you hang around with and I’ll tell you the kind of person you are.” That advice kept me out of a lot of trouble and has proven to be true in the workplace as well. If you want to be promoted, hang out with ambitious, career-minded people. If you want to be known as a “problem-solver”, then associate with other problem-solvers or visionary people. You can’t soar like an eagle if you stay in the henhouse with the rest of the chickens.
Rule #3: Attend networking events. Don’t have one in your area? Then start one. Focus on being around other people with similar interests ( see Rule #2) and it doesn’t have to be about career-related topics. For all you know, you might share the same hobby or passion with a top executive in a company you’d like to work in. Opportunity rarely comes knocking if you never move past your living room. Get out and meet other people. Worse that can happen is you might meet a friend.
Rule #4: When you collect business cards, make sure you follow up. This is a very common mistake jobseekers and employees make. After spending a great deal of time and preparation in getting to meet someone, they often fail to follow up. Hint: Immediately after you get a business card, write the date, location and any key words that will jog your memory about the person on the back of the card. When you make an attempt to reconnect with the person, be persistent. Don’t let an unreturned phone call be the reason you back off. It could very well mean that the person is busy with other things and not able to sit and wait for your call. Stay with it!
Rule #5: It’s okay to be excited. Most people think if you demonstrate excitement about a job or an opportunity that would be interpreted as being “desperate”. Well, after an overdrawn stint of being unemployed or remaining is a position you can’t stand, wouldn’t you desperately want to have your ideal career come to fruition? Ah, yeah! The why not show your excitement when the opportunity presents itself. As a former recruiter, I appreciated candidates who revealed their enthusiasm about coming to work for my company. It’s a “likeability” factor that impresses others.
Rule #6: Be who you are. During the course of my career, I tried to emulate my supervisor and his other cronies by wearing monogrammed shirts, laughing at jokes that I really didn’t find amusing and trying to fit in with “the boys”. As a result, each day I came closer and closer to losing sight of who I am and what I want. The Life stepped in and I was “let go” due to a bad economy. What a blessing that was! As I look back, I realize the lesson I learned is that I have to be true to myself. No employer can pay you enough money that would be worth selling yourself. Don’t sell yourself for a paycheck. Be yourself and trust that you will attract the kinds of opportunities and circumstances that compliment who you are.