I recently had a coaching client on the phone who was networking at events a lot. He was going to all kinds of events, met people and talked to many of them. Most of them really liked him but it seemed to him that he was never meeting the right people.
I want to talk to you about why most networking that people do is completely useless and how to get real results.
By the way if you want to expand your network in Switzerland, I highly suggest you join the Career Network Switzerland group on LinkedIn and connect with me directly.
1. You Don’t Know the Purpose
Why are you networking? What’s the reason you dedicate your time to go to those events and sometimes step outside of your comfort zone and talk to people to expand your network?
For some, it’s because they are looking for a job. For others, because they know that relationships are important for their careers. And then there is the crowd that thinks that through networking, opportunities will magically appear from every corner.
It’s like when people create a LinkedIn account and think they will magically get job offers. That’s not how it works. Yes, you have to talk to people but you have to tell and ask them the right things. If you only talk about the weather, your job search problems or how bad you have been treated by your previous employer, you do more bad than good. Stop that right now.
2. You Don’t Have a Goal
To successfully talk to people you can do two things. First, you can have a clear goal about where you want to go. If you have that, great. If not, go download the 1st chapter of the Ebook “Career Excellence Through Relationships” and do the exercises on pages 18-21.
Having a clear goal in mind will give the person you talk to a better idea of where they can lead you.
If you tell people, you are looking to move your career into international business development in the luxury goods industry, that works.
If you tell people that you are looking for a job in project management, that does not work. Be more specific. Nobody will have a clue what to do with you if you tell them you want to move into project management without more specific information.
When you tell people about your career goals, include three things:
1. A function
2. A type of company
3. An industry
These three areas together will formulate a goal that is clear enough for people to understand and give you hints.
3. You Don’t Talk Passionately
The second method is talking about something that fascinates you. Talk about a passion, something that when you talk about it, your eyes glow bright and you feel like in paradise. I do this since late 2012 every day and it created a business, speaking engagements, training engagements, partnerships and clients I love to work with.
If you are in a career transition and you talk about your WHY, it will eventually lead to two things:
1. People who believe what you believe will want to get to know you better and will be very happy to refer or introduce you to others
2. People who don’t share your values will go out of your way and you will be very grateful for that later
You want to work with people who believe what you believe and nothing else. Everything else will lead into a dead-end job and a sad career.
4. You Ask for a Job
When you talk to people, don’t ask for a job, ask for information instead. If you ask for a job, people will be reluctant to refer you because they are scared you will annoy their contacts with your job search.
Instead, ask who they know who can help you gather information about your desired specific field. Ask who could give you more information about your desired career path.
Do this and be amazed about how many people have a good core and would be very happy to help. Be specific and never vague or people won’t know how to help you.
5. You Hide Your Job Search
This is another big mistake. I know that status is extremely important for many people in Switzerland but never hide your job search. You can always formulate it differently if you are not comfortable with saying you are looking for a job. You can say “I’m in a career transition” or “I’m looking for my next career move”. All of those work.
If you hide your job search, you will never find success in networking because people have no idea about your intentions or will understand you in a wrong way.
One of my coaching clients was facing exactly this problem and all the people he met were not able to help him as they did not understand what he wanted. Don’t make that mistake.
6. You Ask the Wrong Questions
Many people either ask the wrong questions or none at all.
I will give you some excellent examples of questions to ask:
- “Who do you know who knows about biotechnology in Switzerland?”
- “Who do you know who knows about treasury consulting in Switzerland”?
- “Who do you know who knows about fast growing tech startups in Switzerland”?
In case you meet somebody who is already in your desired field ask them this:
- “How did you get your job?”
- “Who do you know who is hiring people like me?”
- “Who do you know who knows about [your specific function you are looking for]?”
What’s your experience with networking? Leave a comment below and tell me about your experience.