News bulletin: You are not the center of the universe!
It is easy to forget this important tidbit in the hustle and bustle of a busy work life. We run from meeting to important assignment assuming life will always be that way. No need to attend that professional association meeting. No time for lunch with old friends.
Until something shocks you out of your hectic life. Until you need something. Once you have been laid off or want to change jobs you realize how much you need other people.
Odds are people you dropped while you were so busy or those who do not know you yet won’t return your phone calls. They are too busy doing what you were doing before you were laid off, or before you needed them.
We hear this complaint a lot. “Why doesn’t she return my calls?” “Doesn’t he know how rude that is?” They won’t return your calls if they don’t know you.
Everyone knows someone who has been laid off or in some way finds themselves in a job search. After realizing they should have networked before they needed contacts, these folks become quite responsive to job seekers who call them. They know how it feels when no one will answer your call.
Yesterday I went to an association meeting and encountered a woman who looked vaguely familiar. However I couldn’t place her. She slipped out of the room early before I could speak to her but before she left she came to my table and quietly whispered in my ear that she appreciated how nice I was when she was in her job search. She wanted me to know that my small kindness, something I only vaguely recalled, meant a lot to her. It made me smile that I helped her.
I am not an expert in networking, although perhaps I am compared to some people, but small kindnesses even in a very busy workday, go a long way to helping other people and eventually come back to you. This is the true meaning of networking.
So take the time to meet people before your job is impacted. This way you can ease into the job search mode by networking seamlessly with people you already know. And after you find you next position, please return phone calls from those who need to network. Those desperate phone calls remind you that you should always network before you need to.
Here are 5 tips for building networking contacts before you need them to help you find a new job:
1. Be active in business associations.
When you go to meetings, plan to meet at least 3 people you did not know before. Get their business cards. Invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Inquire about their experiences. Share yours. Be friendly. Next time you go to that association meeting, I bet they remember you!
2. Return phone calls from people trying to network with you.
Those folks will get a job eventually and they will remember your kindness. They will be more likely to help you when it is your turn in the barrel.
3. Be active on LinkedIn.
Extend invitations. Accept invitations. But don’t stop there. Use LinkedIn as more than a repository for your connections. Participate in discussions. Ask questions. Comment. Share ideas. This is networking for shy people!
4. Be friendly on airplanes and in public.
Collect business cards wherever you go and connect with those folks later on LinkedIn. Jot a note on the business card to remind you where you met. Put the contact information in your contact file. Then start a conversation so you build relationships with these new contacts.
5. Ask people outside work for advice on business projects.
You get a different business perspective and network at the same time when you talk to other folks professional to professional.
Networking is easy if you do a little at a time. As Mama used to say, it is easier to be friendly. It hardly hurts at all!
Check out The Interview Doctor’s 7 Tips for Career Success for the Shy Person. Whether you are a shy person or not these tips will help you in your networking.