Networking: Are You a Beggar or a Contributor?

People who are in job search often say, “I just hate networking! I hate begging for a job.”

Maybe you’ve said that yourself a few times? You absolutely should hate begging for a job. Begging is degrading. So, try something else.

Think about the hiring decision makers out there. What’s going on in their worlds? They’re often worried, overworked, and stressed out. They are frantically trying to keep the ship afloat. They need help.

Their jobs, their careers depend on finding good people—people like you. Of course, many of them don’t have the resources to hire you. Even so, a smart manager always has feelers out looking for talent. Granted, their time is limited. Many of them have the gatekeepers working overtime to keep the unemployed masses away from them. Still, many will want to have a conversation with you—even if they don’t have a job for you right now.

How can you get someone to want to talk to you?  

Think of yourself as a contributor

First, change your mindset. You are a contributor who can make a real difference for a stressed-out boss and the company.

Have a polished presentation in plain English 

Be able to clearly articulate what you want, what you do well, and the contributions you make. Don’t use worn-out job-hunting jargon like, “I’m a results-oriented, team playing, self-starter who makes a big impact on the bottom line and helps corporations to achieve their goals.”  

Remember, everyone is tuned into WIFM (what’s in it for me?) Be able to justify the hiring decision maker (or someone who might introduce you to a hiring decision maker) making time to talk to you. Why is it in his/her best interest to spend a few minutes with you?   

Approach people intelligently  

Send a professional email, then follow up with a phone call requesting a brief meeting. Come prepared with intelligent questions.   

Remember the ways that talking to you can benefit others:

 a) You can make them FEEL important.  

Who doesn’t like to be sought out and asked for advice? It makes us feel good about ourselves. Plus, deep down, most of us really enjoy helping others. If you helped someone get a great job, wouldn’t you feel great?

b) You can help them to BE more important.  

Watch “The Godfather” movie, and notice how much time Don Corleone spends doing favors for others. Sure, the favors are often violent, illegal, and reprehensible. Still, he knows that his power derives from his ability to be of service to others. Helping others builds stature and inspires loyalty.

c) You can help people to advance their careers and make more money.  

For months, the company has been trying to find someone to get things straightened out, but all they’ve found is mediocrity and incompetence. If you’re a manager and you find the right person/people who can do the job with excellence, you look good—and this can help you get a promotion and better pay. If you’re not the boss, but you help the boss find the right person, you also look good.

d) What goes around comes around.  

Many people have become painfully aware of how insecure their jobs are. Even a lot of folks with stellar track records have been thrown out in the street a couple of times. So, they’re thinking, “I should be really nice to people who are out of work—because that could be me next year or even next month.” That person who helps you today may need your help someday soon.

Sear it into your mind that you are a valuable contributor and people will benefit from speaking to you. It will make a big difference.

If done properly, networking can be productive, fascinating, and enjoyable. You can broaden your horizons, meet great people, and develop a powerful network that will last for years.

If you’re still employed

Don’t wait until you’re out of work to build your network. Take action now. People skilled in networking know there’s more to it than passing around resumes. It is building relationships over time. Start building them now. 

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