In today’s expert Q&A, Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli, teaches us how curmudgeons and the asocial can be successful networkers.
What are traditional networking strategies and why don’t they work for everyone?
Traditional networking strategies typically involve “getting out there” and being social. Here’s a list of can’t-miss best job search practices that are staples of a traditional networking regimen:
- Build a profile and get active on LinkedIn.
- Participate heavily in live and online networking events and job fairs.
- Schmooze your contacts now—not when you need them!
- Meet at least three new people every week.
- Pay it forward! Aim to help two or three people for every one that helps you.
And while you’re doing all of that, be sure to apply two thick coats of charm and charisma.
Those who don’t excel at traditional networking might feel inclined to give up on networking altogether. Why is this a bad idea?
I used to push my more reserved, introverted clients to “just get over it,” knowing how important networking is as part of a full-on job search strategy. But I know that it just doesn’t work for everyone. That said you do need to network one way or another in order to make it in today’s cut-throat job market («Tweet This). So you need to find strategies that work for you and that appeal to your strengths.
Turns out, being genuine is about the most important thing you can do to not only make new contacts and find a job, but to find a job that you actually like and want to stick with. The flip side: Force yourself to do things or act in a way that’s unnatural and uncomfortable and you probably won’t be putting your best foot forward…in fact, you could do more harm than good.
What alternative networking strategies do you recommend for this group?
If you prefer information to people, as many introverts do, then research is your lifeline to the networked universe. To even the playing field with the extroverts who rub elbows at mixers, you need to perform Internet and other research double-time in order to pick up industry trends and company news and discover professionals and thought leaders whose work inspires you. When someone grabs your attention, zero-in: read their articles, books and academic papers; make it your business to attend their presentations and lectures. You can remain a wallflower during this part of the process, but ultimately, you will want to step beyond your comfort zone.
Eventually you’ll want to reach out via phone (this takes chutzpa!) or email (less chutzpa required, but still an effective strategy) to introduce yourself and arrange an in-person meeting. If there’s a genuine fit between your needs and interests, outreach at this stage should feel right to you as you realize that the other person has as much to gain from your exchange as you do.
What is your #1 tip for job seekers pursuing alternative networking avenues?
Many feel “icky” asking for help from their existing contacts, let alone new ones. The main reason I hear over and over again: Why would someone want to help me? I’m sure they’re busy and have no time for my questions.
My response is give and ye shall receive. Networking is a two-way street. Even if you don’t think you have anything to offer someone higher up the ladder…you do! Here are three good ways that less experienced professionals can help others that often turn the heads of those who are anti-networking by nature:
- Be a connector. Connect your contacts with people and organizations that have the potential to save them time and money and help them to better do their jobs. Think vendors, potential business partners and would-be employees. In the now infamous words of dictionary.com, “organize them into a network”.
- Send useful information. If you’ve read a job posting or know of an upcoming event or training program that will truly help, pass it on. Don’t, however, send tidbits that one could find on their own six seconds into a Google search.
- Know your contacts. Who are they? What are their interests? What are their immediate needs? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, find out. With this information in hand, it will become clear how you can be of help…real help.
About the Expert
Joseph Terach is Founder and CEO of Resume Deli, a global provider of resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile development services as well as networking, interviewing and job search advice. Joseph has more than 15 years of experience as a career manager and content strategist; his career advice has been featured by The New York Times, Newsday, CBS This Morning and Blog Talk Radio. Joseph earned his BA in English and MA in Counseling, both from New York University.