Power of Networking

  • Why a Referral is Important- And 3 Ways to Get One

    If you want to understand the importance of referrals, I want you to consider how many job applications Google receives every year? If you Google the question (haha), you’ll see references to up to 2,000,000+ applications annually.

    How much time does a recruiter spend reading a resume? The resume that you spent hours refining each keyword, tailoring each bullet to be perfect?

    In many cases, it’s not more than 10 seconds. Generally, a recruiter will scan your name, experience titles, education, maybe read a bullet and that’s it. These precious 10 seconds assume your resume even got passed the AI screening tool, which provides the first cull of resumes.

    This is why, for any job you apply to, it is imperative that you try and get a referral prior to applying for a position.

    How does a referral help you?

    1. Jump to the top of the application pile. A referral can help you to bypass both the AI and the initial recruiter screening

    2. Earn an actual read of your resume. If a resume has been referred by somebody who is trusted, the recruiter or hiring manager will be influenced to assume that the candidate is strong, and will spend more than 10 seconds reading the resume

    3. It can fast-track the hiring process. Referrals can lead straight to the interview process, as opposed to waiting days/weeks for screenings. This is especially helpful for individuals who have an urgent need to get through the hiring process.

    4. Companies invest in their referral programs. The cost of hiring talent is high. It is a lengthy process that takes away time and resources from focusing on strategic work. A strong referral program is a pipeline for great talent. In many cases, companies will pay a referral bonus to an employee, whose referral is hired. This means both the company and employees, want to find great referrals. They are working in your interest

    How To Get a Referral?

    1. Leverage your network to find contacts at the company you would like to work for, and ask for a referral. Some easy sources to look for contacts within your network:
    a. LinkedIn
    b. Social clubs
    c. Previous employers
    d. Other social media platforms
    e. Friends/colleagues

    2. Ask for introductions to your contacts network (e.g., if you don’t know any body at Amazon, but a friend of your friend knows somebody, ask for an introduction)

    3. If you have no direct/indirect contacts, reach out to somebody at the company directly via LinkedIn. Find an individual in the role/group that you would like to join (e.g., Microsoft Finance team). Send a direct mail introducing yourself, with the intent of trying to get to know the individual. If they offer to connect use this time to ask them about their role, the company, why they like their job. Share your elevator pitch, tell them what you are trying to achieve, ask for help.

    Remember, some people will be willing to refer you and others won’t. This is an iterative process where it only takes on success for amazing results. Be ready and comfortable with the idea of trying multiple times.

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  • Where Do Hiring Managers Look to Fill Roles?

    If you’re applying for a role you saw posted online, I’m sorry to tell you that you are already late in the process. That role has been available for weeks, perhaps months, and the hiring manager has considered multiple candidates before it was even posted online. So where do hiring managers look first to fill the opportunities that are available? Let’s take a look.

    This image is showing people searching for a job on a laptop. Networking can help you get noticed by hiring managers

    So where do hiring managers look first to fill the opportunities that are available? Let’s take a look.

    3 Places Where Hiring Managers Look First

    1. Personal Network: Logically speaking, who would someone trust first- a total stranger or a colleague they have worked with in previous roles or someone they know from their own network? Obviously, the individual with a personal connection wins that round.

      When a role is available, the hiring manager will look across all of their contacts first. Do they know somebody who would be a good fit? Can any of their close colleagues recommend a great fit?
    2. Network of their Peers: After exhausting their personal network, hiring managers often move to ask their peers and direct reports if they know someone who would be a good fit. The hope is that someone, perhaps the leader of an adjacent team, can recommend a great candidate. Even better is if the hiring manager’s direct report, someone who is famiiliar with the role, can recommend someone who would fit the team.
    3. Professional Recruiters: Once their personal and secondary networks have been exhausted, its time to hire the pros to do their thing. Professional recruiters are expensive but they are excellent at filtering out a set of strong candidates from numerous applications and sources.

    When you see a position posted online, that means none of the previous steps were successful. When this job is posted online, EVERYONE has access to the role. This means getting the actual job now becomes an incredibly competitive tasks. When you apply for online job postings, you are competing against hundreds, if not thousands of applicants.

    A group of two men and a woman networking in an office. Networking can help you get noticed by hiring managers

    How to Get Considered for a Role Before it Gets Posted

    Don’t you want to improve your odds of earning that interview and landing that perfect role? Common sense dictates that you would rather compete against a much smaller number of candidates for that job opportunity than apply when your application would be measured against hundred of others.

    Networking is your key to beat the crowd. When you are actively networking, you are able to stay top of mind for the decision makers and their secondary circles. This means your name is much more likely to come up when someone is thinking of an ideal candidate for a role.

    Get your name in front of that hiring manager BEFORE the role is posted online by being an active and diligent networker.

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  • Networking for Introverts

    Are you an introvert? Is the idea of networking uncomfortable for you? Does it give you anxiety or make you feel awkward? Do you feel that because you are an introvert, you will not be good at networking? 

    While you may feel that all of the above statements are true, they are only true because you allow them to be so.  In this article on networking for introverts, I’m going to share tips and tricks on how you can excel at networking.

    Think of Networking as a Muscle

    Networking is a skill- almost like a muscle. A muscle gets stronger the more you exercise it. Similarly, the more you network- the better you become at it.

    Think of the first time you tried anything new in a public setting (e.g., going to the gym, throwing a ball, speaking in front of people). That first instance of trying something new was always a little bit awkward, but it got easier and more enjoyable with practice and repetition. 

    You can, and you willget better at networking over time. You just need to do it again and gain. 

    Potential Reasons You Don’t Like Networking

    As an introvert, some of the reasons why you may not like the idea of networking: 

    • I have to talk to somebody: You actually have done this many times before so you are better at this than you realize. Consider your current and previous jobs, school life, dating life, socializing, etc. You have spoken to new people many times before. While you may not have loved the experience, you did it, you were successful at it, and you will continue to do so the rest of your career. You can do this! 
    • What am I going to say to them? I don’t like talking about myself?: This requires preparation. If you plan well in advance what you are going to say (e.g., your elevator pitch), what you are looking for (e.g., type of jobs you are searching for), where you’d like to work (e.g., list of companies you’ve considered), what you need from the person you are speaking too (e.g., introductions, recommendations, feedback on your approach, etc), you will be much more comfortable actually saying it during the call. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become about your pitch and the better you’ll feel about the process. Once you’ve completed it 3-4 times, you will have nailed it, and it’ll be a night and day difference in how you feel 
    • I am not comfortable asking for help: Put yourself in the shoes of the other person, the person who took the call to network with you. You have reached out to them, told them you are looking for a new role, told them you’d like to learn more about their company/role, etc. They have accepted the call, because they want to help you. If they didn’t want to help you, why did they take the call? Assume the best of the situation, not the worst  
    • What if I am being an inconvenience? Wasting their time? See above, if they took the meeting, they are willing to help you  
    • What if they cannot help me? So what? If they are unable to help, or unwilling, move on to the next person. This is why you need to build a long networking list. Networking is a volume game; the higher number of chances you take, the more likely you are to eventually have the meeting that helps you  
    • What if they’re a jerk, what if they’re rude to me? See above. I ask again, so what? Yes, it will be awkward and uncomfortable, but if for whatever reason the other person makes you feel uncomfortable, move on to the next networking conversation. Keep taking a chance until you find your winner  

    There are many more reasons why networking can be uncomfortable. They can mostly be categorized as limiting beliefs, or excuses that prevent you from taking the chance.  

    There is one thing that’s for certain. It definitely gets easier with practice; you just need to commit to doing it again and again.  

    How To Ease Yourself Into Networking

     Pick some contacts to network with. Practice with your friends or family, ask for feedback and run your pitch until you’re comfortable with it.  

    It’s also a good idea to take some time and categorize the people you will network with as those who are low risk (uber friendly) vs. Those who are high risk (maybe more senior or higher stakes conversations). Work with the individuals in the low-risk category until you’re confident and ready to go after the high-stake candidates.  

    Don’t overthink this, make a list and give it a shot. You will surprise yourself with how quickly you improve at professional networking.  

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  • 5 Ways to Leverage Your Network During Job Search

    The end goal of networking is to help you find a new role. It is incredibly exciting to find that perfect job that checks all the boxes on your goals and desires such as compensation, work life balance, challenge, growth etc.

    However, practically speaking, every networking conversation you have will not start and end with “Do you have a job for me?”

    Not every person in your network is a hiring manager, someone with the power to hire or have availability for new personnel in their team.

    Having said that, every person in your network CAN help you in your journey! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to quickly identify how they can help, and extract the value from each conversation.

    Here are 5 different ways your network can help throughout your job search:

    1- Educate you about the sector/role

    • Sector: Which industries are the best fit for somebody with your skill set? (e.g., Are the big banks currently hiring consultants?)
    • Role: What type of roles are currently available at their company? In their industry? (e.g., Tech companies are hiring for Product managers, business development, engineers, etc)
    • What do the roles really mean?: Product management is a wide term, can mean different things at different companies. What does a “Consultant” do? What does a Director job title really mean?

    2- Validate or challenge your job search hypotheses

    • Speaking to somebody who is currently in a role that you are targeting (e.g., IT implementation consultant) can validate what you believe are the roles, responsibilities, and career path for those roles
    • Help you to understand that the skills you do have (or perhaps need to develop) are a good fit for a specific career path (e.g., Learning from a Product Manager that Management Consultant core skills typically lead too success in their role), which may challenge an incorrect assumption

    3. Learn about companies or roles you never considered

    • You were targeting Corporate strategy roles at the top Consumer Product Goods (CPG) companies, in the networking conversation your colleague mentions 5 rapidly growing CPG companies that should be added to your target list
    • You describe your skill set, and through the networking conversation you learn that you’re a great fit for other similar roles you never considered

    4. Recommend introductions to people you hadn’t considered

    • You don’t know, who you don’t know. And you don’t know, who your network knows
    • There is an ocean of people out there that can help you, that you’ve never heard about. A referral from a trusted source, can help you expand your network to many more helpful people

    5. It keeps you relevant and top of mind to the people you know

    • Every time you network with somebody, you remind them of who you are and your capabilities
    • You never know if the perfect opportunity will land in the lap of one of your colleagues. If you haven’t recently connected with them, you will not be top of mind when they think of “who can I recommend for this role?”

    As you’ve heard me say time and again, networking is not something you do just when you’re searching for a new job. You need to be networking constantly, staying in touch with your network, checking in with people so that when you’re ready to make that move- you’re not hitting up contacts with whom you haven’t connected in ages.

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  • Every Person In Your Network Can Help You

    Never assume that someone in your network cannot help you. Fact is, every single person in your network has the potential to help you in your search for your next opportunity.

    This is a common trap many of us fall into. We assume that someone doesn’t have the ability or the reach to help us based on their title, role, seniority (or lack thereof), job experience, life experience, our perception of their relative ability etc.

    This fundamental premise is wrong! At the end of the day, you DO NOT KNOW:

    • Who somebody else knows
    • Who they are related to
    • Who they met for coffee or on zoom last week
    • What access they truly have

    There are many ways you can ask for help when networking and you simply don’t know until you have the discussion how an individual could potentially help you.

    The goal of every networking conversation is to increase the information you have about getting access to an opportunity that will fit your needs and goals.

    When you approach a networking conversation, the person you are speaking with can potentially help by:

    1. Providing you an introduction to somebody you do not know
    2. Recommending additional or similar roles/opportunities you had not considered
    3. Telling you about a company/role that may or may not interest you
    4. Provide perspective on growth opportunities, compensation, culture of the organization, etc
    5. Validating or challenging your hypotheses
    6. Providing a referral to a job opportunity
    7. Recommend additional people you need to meet

    Every networking conversation during your search should be undertaken with the mindset that the person you are speaking to can get me one step closer to my goal. Keep telling yourself, “I will take a valuable piece of information out of this conversation!”

    Remember, having an open and inquisitive mind is a superpower!

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  • 6 Common Networking Mistakes People Make

    The people in your network want to help you. You just need to make it easy for them by being prescriptive and explicit in how they can best help you. If you do not direct them on how to help, the networking conversation is likely going to be ambiguous and lead to a sub-optimal outcome.

    Every networking conversation is not going to end in a request for a job. That is one potential outcome (albeit not the most likely outcome). Not every person you speak with is going to be the end decision maker who has the influence to give you access to a great opportunity.

    You need to be strategic with how you use each conversation. At a bare minimum, each networking conversation should provide you with more useful information as you continue your search.

    At this point, you may be wondering, what are some of the common mistakes most people make during their networking conversations? Below I’m sharing a few of the most common mistakes I see people making during their networking calls.

    6 Common Mistakes

    1- Not preparing for the conversation: Why are you meeting this specific person? Do you have a perspective on how they can help you? Did you review their LinkedIn background? Are there specific industries, sectors, job functions you want to ask about?

    2- Not building rapport or a relationship: The level of trust you build with the individual, is directly proportional to their willingness to help you in your job search. If they have never met you before, and are taking this meeting as a favor, it is unlikely they’ll submit a passionate referral on your behalf. Invest time into building a relationship, getting to know them, giving them a reason to like you as an individual.

    3- Only networking when they need a job: Building your network is a lifelong journey. Staying in touch with individuals, meeting new people, growing relationships should be a regular activity. Opportunity does not work around your schedule, when you need it, or when it’s convenient for you. There may be a better opportunity for you out there right now, but you won’t know about it if you are not networking

    4- Asking for generic roles: Making the person you are networking with, do the work for you. Asking them to think about what role you are best suited for. You need to be explicit. Tell them exactly what type of role you think you are a great fit for, and why.

    • What to do: “Based on my background I believe I’m a great fit for direct sales roles in the enterprise SaaS space”
    • What not to do: “What type of sales roles are available?”

    5- Not following up: After somebody has agreed to help you, it is on you to follow up with them. Remind them a few days later, send a thank you note. Be accountable for your own success, don’t assume your needs are the other persons top priority

    6- Not talking to enough people: Treat this exercise as a game of numbers. The larger the volume of people you speak with, the higher probability that networking will lead to a great outcome

    Always remember, the purpose of networking is to help you find more information towards your end goal which is finding that next great opportunity.

    Be purpose driven with every conversation, look to gain value out of this investment of your time. Be thankful, gracious, and respectful to the other persons time and always make sure they end the conversation feeling good about their attempt to help you.

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  • Your Network is Bigger Than You Realize

    Early on in your job search, you are ready to network with your peers/colleagues/friends. But then, your fears and doubts start to kick in.

    You start thinking things like this:

    “My network is too small”

    “I don’t know enough people”

    “I don’t have access to a network in my field of interest”

    “The people I know are not decision makers”

    There are hundreds of excuses our doubts throw at us. But if there is one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s this.

    “These are all limiting beliefs!”

    Your network is bigger than you realize. There are potentially hundreds, even thousands of people you can reach out to ask for help in your job search.

    You just need to start building the list starting from all the various sources your network exists in today.

    So what are the various sources that you can draw on to fill out your network? This exercise will take about 30-60 minutes but at the end of this, you will have created a networking list of 100s of individuals you hadn’t previously considered.

    Questions to Think About

    1- LinkedIn / Social Media accounts: Have you been active on the various social media platforms( LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc). Every one of these platforms is a source of a network. Some more professional than others, but don’t discount your network at the start. The first step is to build the laundry list of contacts

    2- Friends and family: They trust you, inherently will be willing to help you. You’ve cultivated these relationships over years

    3- Every previous employer: Think of all of your previous jobs and/or roles. In each function, you have had multiple colleagues/co-workers/partners. Each individual is potentially a part of your network. Some examples are:

    • Previous boss, peers on the team
    • Clients – external stakeholders you served, sold too, delivered too, communicated with
    • Partners – Internal/external team members or service providers who helped you to complete your work
    • Internal stakeholders you collaborated/communicated with (e.g., product, sales, marketing, engineering, support, etc)
    • General co-workers and friends, who you knew through the lunchroom, work social events, etc

    4- School alums and classmates: Where did you go to college/University? Highschool? Every person you interacted with, can be leveraged as part of your network. The reach of your school peers is immense. They’ve traveled the world, worked across every industry, held various levels of positions. Think of all the sources of network you can pull from:

    • Graduating class – Everyone who graduated with you either in your program or adjacent
    • Younger and older alums – Individuals you were acquaintances/friends with
    • Social/Sports clubs – What clubs did you participate in while you were a student?

    5- Post academic clubs/groups/teams: You have a social and personal life outside of work. You have joined teams, book clubs, movie reviews, foodie groups. Your kids play sports/activities, the parents of their peers of candidates. Where else are you regularly meeting with people? They are all part of the network

    6- Dating scene: Are you leveraging various social media apps to meet people for your personal life? Every person you met, is part of your network

    Whew- that was a lot. Again, if you actually sit down and go through these questions, using this 30-60 minute exercise, you can easily build a network list of 100s of people.

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