In Networking It's Not the Tools, It's the Approach

The topic of networking isn't an obvious one because there isn't any magic list of things you can do to be the best networker. There are certainly lists of things that are fantastic ideas and things you can do to get started, but in the end, the people who are most successful at networking are those who try to change the way they interact with everyone. 

Networking is a change you make in your life to connect with others. The better you connect with others, the more you will find that you have friends that you can rely on. But to stick with the basics, let's start with a simple point of perspective that will immediately give you more success as you apply it.

Adopt the right perspective

When looking for a job, it’s important to see things through the eyes of someone who’s doing the hiring. While recruiters are happy to speak with many different people, what they’re usually looking for someone who stands out, and that standout factor is often curiosity. They're looking for people who have the capacity to develop a passion and desire to excel in whatever field they are pursuing.

Of course, simply showing that capacity through curiosity is not the only benefit. Being curious and seeking information is a great way to attract attention. As you might have noticed, people love to talk about themselves and their own interests. Therefore, it makes sense that if you want to get your foot in the door, you should ask people to talk about themselves and their interests.

Just imagine for a moment how much better it is to ask about a company rather than just simply asking if that company is hiring. It shows you care about what the company does and that you would be a good match even before the idea comes up that the company is looking for someone. However, sometimes this approach can be a little slow because you're trying to establish a relationship with someone new. That's where working among those you know is a great asset.

Don’t overlook friends in your search

In this technology age, we have great tools to maintain connections with our friends. In the time of Facebook, LinkedIn, and the rest of social media, it's now easier than ever to talk with someone who could be anywhere in the world and could have changed addresses ten times since you've last seen them. My simple suggestion is to make use of these tools.

The networking advice for social media/friends is twofold: Keep your friends and don't be afraid to ask for what you need. The first part of this advice starts now, even if you are not currently looking for a new position. Contact your friends every once in a while. Ask them what's new in their lives and do a little catching up. Maintain those connections—you never know whether or not they’ll be useful. You'll be surprised who will end up being able to help you.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask. Frequently in my career I have offhandedly mentioned what my goals were to my friends, and they have been in a position to help me succeed. My first internship was offered to me because I mentioned to a friend what I had been doing and what I hoped to do. Be open with your friends about your goals and ambitions, because they may be willing and able to help you get there.

In summary, networking has changed a bit as we rely more and more on technology to connect with other people. Use that to your advantage. Seek to learn as much as you can from companies and organizations that you are interested in, keep up with friends, and be open with your friends about your ambitions. I've definitely seen how these tools have led me to the successes that I've enjoyed and so I share them with you in the hopes that they will help you too.