One of my favorite stories about the benefits of connections in a job search is from a successful business owner who landed her dream job straight out of college—thanks to a lucky introduction from her aunt.
The story goes that her aunt began chatting with someone she had never met while on jury duty and, as it turned out, the new friend was hiring in the field her niece was looking into. Her brilliant aunt immediately began talking to this individual about her fantastic niece and ultimately her niece began working there after graduation. How cool is that?
I love this story because it reveals the power of connections. Her aunt did not work in her niece’s field, but she had the requisite information, adored her niece, and had chutzpah. She was at the right place at the right time and jumped on it. Don’t we all need a friend or relative like that?
We all get nervous when we think about networking, but the power of connectors is the secret sauce we all need. Here are five tips on how to make connections that help your career.
1. Talk to people even if they are not in your field or industry. People know people. I am a life coach but I interact with my dentist, my hairdresser, my friends, my neighbors, etc. You get the point. We all can connect people to others no matter what we do or where we work. You may be looking for a job in the retail industry and my best friend from college may be hiring at the perfect place.
2. Tell people exactly what you want. Don’t make your connections do too much work. Tell them what you are looking for in as much detail as is appropriate. Consider who you are talking to, and adapt. For instance, if someone is not in the industry, be a little more generic, as opposed to talking with someone who works in your field and speaks your language. You might say that you are looking for a “marketing” position to your pediatrician cousin and “content marketing” to your marketing friend. The clearer you are, the better.
3. Prioritize connectors. Malcolm Gladwell introduced me to the idea of connectors in his book The Tipping Pointand I think it is brilliant. Connectors know a lot of people—through work, hobbies, or other social groups like religious groups, sports leagues, etc. But for me, the most important part of being a connector is the LOVE of connecting people. We all have friends who naturally make connections. They would have been matchmakers back in the days of the shtetl. They get a dose of dopamine from introducing people to others. These are magical people who just love to see others thrive. Find these people and prioritize them. Take them out to lunch or coffee and tell them you are looking for a job. These people will make it their mission to help you.
4. Cultivate good karma. Be a connector. Build relationships. Be generous with your time, advice, and introductions. I have older clients who are reaching out to younger people they once managed and mentored to see if they have roles to fill at their organization. Luckily these people were kind and generous bosses and can now ask to return the favor. If they had been jerks, these relationships would not be very helpful. Know that no matter where you are in your relationships now, the tables will turn and one day you will be able to give or receive. Everything is cyclical.
5. Be patient. Networking is a process, and the fruits of your efforts may not be initially apparent. When I was first becoming a yoga instructor many years ago, I gave free lessons as a way to practice. Five years later, one of these students was looking for a yoga instructor for her synagogue and she remembered me and reached out.
Finding a job is not about sending your resume into a black hole. It is about making relationships for the long term. You don’t need a million connections, you just need to cultivate the ones you have. So here’s to lots of coffees and lunches and Zoom meetings. Get out there and work your magic!
This post is reprinted with permission from Amy’s blog at amyalpert.com.
Amy Alpert, a graduate of the Certificate in Positive Psychology, is a solutions-focused coach with a practice based in positive psychology. A former human resources executive at Goldman Sachs, she holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University. This article was originally published on Amy’s blog at amyalpert.com.