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Who Has Time For Networking

Who Has Time For Networking?

From Career Tips, 2016 Volume 5, May 2016

I was presenting last week on how to diagnose what's blocking your search. This led to a Q&A discussion about networking, and one attendee made this statement (paraphrased here):

"I'm sure we all agree that networking is absolutely the most effective way to land a job, and with all of your good advice on it. But that doesn't change the fact that no one has time to meet with me. Believe me, I get it. When I was at work, I didn't have time to meet with the 6 people a week calling me up. I was already working a stressful job, and had family and social engagements, so I didn't have any space in my calendar for one more person!"

This is not the first person I've encountered who feels this way. And many felt very strongly about it, letting that get in the way of their searches. But what I've found is that reframing how you look at and approach networking can turn this around.

I won't try to say that there aren't people who are so busy that they won't make the time to meet with you, even by phone, but my experience is that many times the reason is not 'busyness', but how you approach the 'ask'.

Imagine you are a very busy executive. A close friend tells you it would really mean a lot to him if you would meet him for coffee to review what's going on in his search and give him any advice. Would you make the time to meet? I'm guessing you would.

What if that same friend called to say he wanted to come to your office so you could introduce him to several hiring managers at your company. That would seem like a big 'ask', and you might very well say no.

Now, suppose:

  • An important client asked if you'd sit down with her spouse?
  • Someone whom you wish were a client asked if you could meet and give some advice to a friend?
  • A senior officer at your company asked you to meet with his son?
  • An influential business contact asked you to meet with a contact of hers?
  • A business colleague who has been extremely helpful to you over the years asked you to meet with a former co-worker of his.
  • Someone you don't know well, but who is highly respected in your industry, suggested you might gain some useful insights in meeting a colleague of his.
  • Your indispensable administrative assistant asked if you could make time for brief meeting with someone she'd met who really impressed her?

    I'm sure we can all think of many other scenarios where you would almost certainly take a meeting, no matter how busy you were. The key is that there is a relationship that is being drawn upon. How close a relationship is required depends on the person, and as was illustrated in the first example, the way you ask for the meeting.

    There's a sweet spot that combines relationship / referral and an easy 'ask' that will get you meetings. If you're NOT getting the meetings, examine both spectrums to see what you can do to improve your results.