Most people know very well how important the network is for their career. Not just that but where would we all be without friends?
Humans need to belong. We need to have friends to move to the top of the Maslow Pyramid.
So it’s not a question about the importance of the network but rather what to do with the network and how to approach people and ask for the things you want.
In this blog post, I am going to talk about step 8 in the entire process of the 10 Steps to Create Your Very Best Career Opportunities in Switzerland’s Hidden Job Market.
Do You Have the Right People in Your Network?
First of all, it’s crucially important that you have the right type of people in your network.
I recently wrote about the 3 types of people in our lives. Only if you manly have “Value Players” in your network will you succeed with asking for referrals and introductions.
If you ask “Zombie Players” to give you a name or to introduce you, it won’t happen. Therefore we first need to talk about your network and who those people are.
When Can You Ask for the First Date?
A major part of my coaching & mentoring program is to help my clients build relationships with “Value Players” in Switzerland.
A question that I often get is “How long do I have to wait until I ask for referrals or introductions”. My response usually includes “How long would you wait to ask somebody out for a date?”.
It completely depends on the level of trust you have with each other. If you “click” the first time you talk or email, you can be straight forward and ask them out for dinner. Only you have that feeling, if you are on the same level as the other person or not.
The good news is, if you build your relationships with “Value Players”, you will “click” much faster.
The CFO Who Hates Networking (or More Accurately, Hated Networking)
I recently started to work with a Head of Finance. After establishing a strong foundation, we went on to discuss how to approach the building relationships part. He told me he hates these cocktail parties and he just does not feel like a natural networker.
I shared a secret with him that I will also share with you here: I am not a natural networker. I can’t stand these “speed networking events” where everybody tries to hand out 100 business cards. I simply don’t attend them because it makes me sick even thinking about it now.
So how do you build your network in Switzerland when you don’t feel like a natural networker? Pretty simple like everything I teach.
The CFO and I started to identify some strong interests and passions in his private life.
Two things stood out. He absolutely loves Greece with its culture, history, food and everything around that. He is also a huge football fan, so big in fact that he is a football coach for boys. Plus, his wife is a football coach for girls.
These two things stood out so much because his face and his eyes lighted up when we talked about it. We did no longer talk about the boring aspect of meeting people in a meaningless setting but about his passions.
The next step is to find meetups, groups, organizations, forums and any other setting where he can meet these people who are passionate about the same things as he is.
How to Build a Network of “Value Players”
Once you stop thinking how you can get in touch with the big fishes like the c-level executives and start thinking about where you can meet likeminded people, something magical happens.
If you focus on meeting people who share a passion, you will very likely meet “Value Players”.
Take my CFO coaching client as an example. He is now building his network in Switzerland around his passions and very likely the people he is going to meet are working somewhere. Even more interesting, the people he is going to meet know other people and they all know something he doesn’t know.
Pretty awesome right?
Note: Tonight, Wednesday, 16th October, I am hosting a live webinar called 10 Steps to Break Into the Hidden Job Market in Switzerland. Join me there if you want to get the most out of your network.
The Most Beautiful Thing About Connecting With “Value Players”
If you exclusively get together with people who share your passion and your values, the entire process of building relationships becomes a whole lot of fun. That is one thing I focus on a lot when I coach & mentor people. The more I can make the process fun, the faster and easier it is to achieve the results for my coaching clients.
I asked my CFO client initially how he feels about going out to meet people and I could see it in the expression in his face that he felt physically ill when he just thought about it. It’s not because he does not like people. Far from it.
The problem is that he connected the thought of meeting new people with the cocktail parties and the “speed networking events” he has been to in the past.
Then I asked him how he feels about meeting people who are passionate about Greece or football, possibly meeting other football coaches.
He had a big bold smile on his face and I knew we were on the right track.
What is a Referral?
Now that we have covered who to ask and got you into the right mindset, let’s talk about the referral and introduction.
First, we need to understand which one is which. Let’s start with the referral.
A referral occurs when you ask somebody the networking question. Here are some examples of networking questions:
“Who do you know who knows about technology startups in Switzerland?”
“Who do you know in biotech startups in Switzerland?”
“Which SME companies do you know who hire English speakers in the business development sector in Switzerland?”
As you can see, they are open ended questions and very specific. These are also the two keys to make the question successful. If you ask “Do you know anyone in the IT sector in Switzerland”, it’s tempting to say “No” if the person you are asking can’t think of anyone immediately.
What is an Introduction?
An introduction on the other hand, is when you ask a person to introduce you to somebody specifically. In this case, you already know something about the person you want to get introduced to. You either know their job title, name or anything else so that the person you are talking to knows who you are referring to.
The question you are asking sounds something like:
“Would you be able to introduce me to John?”
“I saw that you also know Marco, could you introduce me to him?”
What to Do When You Get the Introduction or Referral
Once the person you talk to gives you a name or introduces you to somebody, it’s on you to reach out. Make sure you always refer back to the person who gave you the name and start a value based communication by using your Why-How-What statement as a basis.