Last night I presented to a group of new Canadians and told them what networking is and how it is used to do a job search in their new country. Firstly I ascertained that networking as we know it here in Canada and the U.S. is totally a foreign phenomena to foreign professionals. Instead of looking for excuses not to network, lets look at arguments to common barriers that allow you to find leads, get tips, acquire knowledge and build relationships.
1. I don’t have any contacts. You only need to know one person to start networking. Consider that most people know between100 to 1,000 people. Ask your contacts who they know that they could introduce you to that would help you move your job search forward.
2. I don’t like having other people solve my problems. Collect the information you acquire from various sources to make your own decisions and to formulate your plans. Ask others to brain storm with you, they don’t have to solve your problems, nor you theirs.
3. It will appear as if I’m begging. To achieve the best results, ask for help, information, advice, ideas, input or an opinion. Believe it or not, people love to give their opinion and are complimented when asked for advice.
4. I don’t like to use people. Try to give back more than you get. View yourself as a resource person. – you too have something to offer. Remember that networking is give and take, not use and abuse.
5. I will owe too many favors. A nice card or letter goes a long way and costs relatively nothing in terms of time or money. Show gratitude and look for ways to give back, if not to the person helping you then to someone else, it’s called, pay it forward.
6. I feel uncomfortable networking and I lack confidence. Set a clear goal, follow your plan, practice, and loosen up. Have fun with it. Meeting people is educational, interesting and enlightening. Reframe the way you think. Keep in mind that you have things to offer and share as well.
7. I don’t know what to say. Start with an open ended question and get people talking about themselves. Learn some ice breakers that start with: “Tell me about yourself” or ” How was your weekend?” or “What do you know about the speaker we’re hearing this evening?”
8. I hate making cold calls. Call only the people who have been referred to you by your initial contacts. Ask those contacts to make the introduction for you. Contact referrals by email and phone giving them a choice of getting back to you.
9. No one can help me. Why should they? Because people just naturally like to help. You do, don’t you? Some people can’t help, some people won’t help, but most often people will help if they can see a purpose to it and if they believe they can be of service.
10. It doesn’t work. It works, you may not be connecting with people effectively but reaching out and making appointments and chatting people up at events does establish some level of rapport and relationship if all your ducks are in line.
11. I don’t know how or where to start. Attend business or social functions where networking is part of the agenda, attend with experienced networkers. Follow their lead. Buddy up with someone who is a good initiator.
12. I don’t have enough time. You don’t have time not to learn how to network. 75-80% of all jobs are found through the hidden job market. Once your own resource base grows, you’ll find that all it takes is one, maybe two calls, to find exactly what it is you need.
13. I’m shy. Alter your view of the task at hand. Rather than focusing on being shy, focus on the outcome of the call, achieving your goal. As stated earlier, buddy up with someone else. Send an email or a letter rather than make a phone call or attend meetings. Read Carole Cameron’s book, “Splash, An Introvert’s Guide to Being Seen, Heard and Remembered.”
14. I’m afraid of rejection. View each rejection as moving one step closer to your goal. A no means it isn’t meant to be. Move on and look for the people who will champion you not turn you down. You can’t help everybody who approaches you and others can’t always help you.
15. No one understands my real needs. It is your responsibility to be clearly focused on what it is you want from a networking contact. You might want different things from different people. Be clear and visual in your messaging as to what you need from someone and what you can help with as well.
At the end of the day, ask good questions, be a strong, intuitive listener, offer assistance and be succinct and clear when presenting yourself in person, in writing or on the phone. Read my book, Networking How To Build Relationships That Count, honestly, it will tell you everything you need to know about networking.
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It