Is Networking Overrated?<!-- --> | <!-- -->Assume Wisely
Is Networking Overrated?

Is Networking Overrated?

Posted: March 16, 2018

We all have that person in our lives who seems to be connected to everyone. That person with the perfect elevator pitch. That person who knows how to work a room. That person who keeps winning friends and influencing people. That that person who never eats alone. That person who's the quintessential networker. Don't you just hate them? Maybe not outright, but did you know networking skills have more to do with career progression than any other skill? Eighty percent of job openings are never publicly advertised: so maybe you just hate that somehow networking and making connections is SO easy to them and every time you try it feels sleazy.

Do you feel networking is sleazy, slimy, and scammy? You are not alone. One study showed that thinking about networking subconsciously invoked a preoccupation with hygiene and grooming. Translation: networking makes us feel dirty. It’s easier to be disgusted by networking than to learn how to do it right — a classic pre-emptive defense mechanism. Unfortunately, the dismissive pleasure is short-lived. While you cry scam other people are getting ahead — ethically and rapidly.

The tricky part is keeping in touch with your network of colleagues and clients in a genuine way, so you don’t come off as self-serving. How do you maintain your connections over the long haul so that you can call when you need help (e.g., a job reference or a professional favor)?

Keep reading, in the next six minutes you will find out what the experts have said than can make you a better networker.

The Difference Between Important & Urgent

When you cry with those that mourn you get the benefit of hindsight. Let their hindsight be your foresight. Read these examples to see if there isn’t a reflection of yourself in between the lines.

”I regret not taking advantage of the multiple networking events that occur due to the type of business my company is in. I could have made a ton of networking contacts that could have facilitated career advancement.” - Sean

“After ~11 years, I find myself in role largely dictated by the first position I took out of college…. I’ve looked into other positions but found a reverse grass-is-greener problem — everything else seems boring or unimportant. My skills outside of my career are varied and vibrant, always expanding, but something about the daily grind has ground me down.” - Jeff

“I wish that 4 years ago when I realized I wanted to make a career change and go into psychology, I hadn’t been deterred by the application process. I could be partially through my graduate degree by now, rather than trying to figure out how I’m going to change careers, get married, and start a family. I balked because I didn’t know who to get recommendations from.” - Erin

“Taking two full years to realize that being a “self-starter” wasn’t just a trait you were born with – it’s something that’s cultivated, aggressively…I took the “appropriate” career path, but sat back waiting for a job to come to me.” - Nita

“I wish I would have started networking and talking to people earlier. I had always assumed that accomplishments were only worth it if you did it completely alone, but every successful person around me has a large network of people that has helped them to get there. I don’t have to do everything myself; there’s no shame in getting other people to help, especially at the stuff I’m not good at.” - Andrea

“I wish I had started early when it came to networking to find a job/make contacts while I was an undergrad…. I felt a little betrayed by my schools career development office – but have realized that I am the only person that is 100% looking out for me and my career.” - Matt

What you’re seeing is the difference between what’s IMPORTANT and what’s URGENT. It’s always urgent to respond to that email, or to watch that TV show, or to do any of the 50 things we’re confronted with each day.

But doing what’s important is difficult. Cultivating a network, discovering what we love, really connecting with family — these are things that are more important than any email. Yet we don’t do them because we will ‘get to it later”.

We can put off what’s important but not urgent for another day, then another and another. Pretty soon, 10 years have gone by and we’re in a similar job as yesterday. Or we’ve hopped from job to job, never really knowing what you want, how to find it, and how to feel connected to work you love. Some of us are even making 6 figures, but still not where we want to be.

You Can Do More Than Regret

It’s far more powerful to spend a week trying to meet with one person than a week trying to go to random networking events. In this case, “less is more” is true — it’s far more effective to focus and meet interesting, relevant people.

Top performers build their network BEFORE they need it. That’s how they can get laid off on a Monday and have a better job lined up by Friday. Read that sentence again, please — it means that top performers are comfortable meeting people and cultivating relationships with no specific purpose. In fact, the “reason” is almost always to help the other person!​

The First Steps Of Networking

As humans it is very hard to reach out to people we do not know. Especially people we know . . . of, but that we don’t know well. Just remember, we all start as strangers. I’ve covered this important step in this LinkedIn Article. The bread and butter of networking is making introductions. It’s important to learn how to do it right.

To use a baseball analogy reaching out and getting introduced is like running. You will not get on base if you don’t run. Informational Interviews are first base. We’ve all heard about “informational interviews” but few of us do it. We are all swinging for a double, trying to land a job interview with a cold resume on a hot job listing.What is an informational interview? How does it work? And how can you use subtle techniques to make an informational interview help you — and more importantly, the other person — even if you have seemingly little to offer?

First, an informational interview is an opportunity to meet someone you’re curious about and learn from them. Maybe you’re curious about their role. Maybe you’re curious about their company’s work culture. An informational interview allows you to find out.

Second, THIS IS NOT WEIRD. What’s weird is responding to a job listing with the written version of a cold call and waiting around for them to call you. Really? Really. Informational interviews are powerful, yet because they seem “weird,” people don’t do them. Go ahead thinking they’re weird.

Next, people do not want to meet with idiots, which includes people who…

Ask worthless questions Ramble Only talk about themselves People WANT to meet with smart people. That means you, if you send a great email, have incisive questions, and are interesting. Let’s talk about what makes a great informational interview.

Reach out through a warm contact. If you don’t have one, find one. The info is out there: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, the “Acknowledgements” page of their book, LinkedIn does a lot of this for you.

Explain any similarities you have. An alum reaches out who seems genuine? Who wouldn’t take a call or, if convenient, a coffee meeting. Maybe you grew up in the same town, or or are in the same LinkedIn Group.Reach out with a BRIEF, CONCISE EMAIL.

Ask insightful questions. GOOD: I noticed you did XYZ. It’s interesting because Very-Important-Person took a different approach and did ABC. What was your thinking? BAD: I’m so unhappy at my job. What should I do with my life? Ugh. Get a bowl of soup and a therapist. That’s not the kind of question you ask at an informational interview. Here is another great question, what can I do to help / support your business?

Ask questions for 90% of the informational interview, interjecting insightful comments once in a while, show you have done your homework. In the last 10%, mention what you are working on and ask for advice.

Never outright ask for a job, which you never, ever do in an informational interview. Always give an “out”.

NOTE: You don’t have to be socially smooth. Sometimes, awkward can be endearing! Not everyone is Rico Suave. But the very best show a remarkable level of preparation, which anyone can do — but few actually do.

Many people stand out among the tens of thousands of others who leave comments/emails/tweets. Not only do the very best top performers have an uncanny ability to reach extremely busy people, but they can turn a one-time meeting into a long-term relationship. And over time, that is worth more than almost any technical skill or amount of experience.

To Do Today

Follow these steps:

Brainstorm list of 10 people you’d like to connect with. Start with these people: People who have a job title you’re interested in learning more about. People who work at companies you’re interested in potentially working at. And people who are doing interesting things you want to learn more about (e.g., you read about them in a magazine/blog post).

Get their email address. If you can’t find this you fail at life. But you read this site so I suspect you’re cool. Use these scripts below for inspiration, or just use them.

How To Set up Your Informational Interviews

An informational interview is an opportunity to meet someone who works in a position or industry you’d like to work in, where you can ask them questions about their job and get the inside scoop.

Never, ever directly ask for a job in an informational interview. That’s a big no-no. You can turn an informational interview into a potential job opportunity, but only if you approach it wisely. Here’s the first step of that process: The email introduction for an informational interview.

By the way, the best place to get informational interviews is via your alumni association. People who went to the same college have a bond with each other, even decades later.

Subject: BYU grad — would love to chat about your work at Adobe

Hi Jane,

My name is Rho Lall. I’m a ’11 grad from BYU and I came across your name on the BYU Alumni Society group on LinkedIn.

#don'tBeCreepy #tell'emHowYouFoundThem

I'd like to get to know you better so that we both might benefit from being connected on a real level. Can we have a brief call to discuss how we can support one another.

If you would like to schedule a 20 - 30 minute discovery call go to this link to see my calendar and book a time that is convenient for you:

I look forward to a meaningful discussion.



How To Ask For Recommendations For People To Talk To

Question About [Potential Contact]

Hey John,

I reached out to [POTENCIAL CONTACT] at [COMPANY]. He is the [TITLE]. I am looking for opportunities as a business intelligence analyst and he is on my list of people I'd like to network with. Is there a better person I should be reaching out to?

Do it!

You now have both the tactics (the scripts) as well as a strategic approach (narrowing down your networking, focusing on helping others, and understanding the power dynamic.

All in one day.

Brainstorm 10 people you want to or should meet. Connect with them. Use the scripts above. Schedule and take the calls. Use the second script to ask for referrals for other informational interviews. Repeat.

Do it.

Git Sum (un)common sense,

Don't miss my next thought:

© 2018 · Rho Lall