Long before I was involved in the mysterious industry of recruitment, with its inspiring resumes that shuffled through my desktop screen even when the laptop battery percentage was at 4, and its endless phone interviews with people from different backgrounds and different talents (which I think I sometimes took too far judging by the company’s phone bill) I used to think that networking was overrated.
I viewed it as a ‘’spur of the moment’’ reaction of me trying to numb the sound of the same old song at the party that was a replica of the exact same I’ve been to last week by finding someone that would do the same.
Networking tends to get a bad reputation with people perceiving it as a snooze fest that consists solely of exchange of business cards while pretending to enjoy the bad catering at a corporate event. For every blessed natural networker out there, there is an equally unenthusiastic wallflower that would rather binge-watch a Netflix show than ‘’mingle’’ at an event.
But, what I have learned from recruiting is that your dream job could be waiting just around the corner or in this case at the bar next to you where the undercover recruiter you are hesitating to talk to can introduce you to it. Hence the art of networking is a skill worth having in your sleeve.
WHO YOU KNOW IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT YOU KNOW
Love it or hate it, this phrase hasn’t become a cliché without a good reason, and recruitment taught me why exactly that is. As recruiters, we never stop with the hunt. What you see as an evening house party at your friend’s, we see as our own personal pool of sharks, and we are on deck ready to shoot the harpoon. What you think is a corporate conference or yet another karaoke party at your favorite bar we think of as our oasis of fresh skills and trust me, we have been running around in the desert, thirsty and quenched for a long time.
You never know who you might be around, and you can never be sure whether there is a recruiter in the room and how useful it is to know how to sell yourself when you get those five minutes of fame and the spotlight is on you.
ANYTIME & ANYWHERE
Be open-minded about where you might meet interesting professional contacts. I have recruited people at hair salons, cabs, parties and reunions. Networking doesn’t have to be limited to industry events and conferences, you can shine and show your skills anytime and anywhere, so you always need to have your ‘’elevator pitch’’ ready.
Think of whoever you are talking to as if they were riding an elevator with you, and you have about 40 seconds before the elevator ‘’ding’’ sound comes on and one of you has to leave. So, what would you say to them and how would you make yourself stand out in those short few seconds?
Start with your skills and where they are applied at the moment (the company you work for or project you are managing) mention your goals and wrap up with listing a number of ways why you think you would be beneficial as a part of the company or team that would consider you or would want to hire you, and lastly how would they make profit out of you.
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
Information is key. Do not pass on a chance to ask about the projects the person you are talking to is involved in. Remember when networking, it is not all about you. The best networkers are genuinely interested in hearing about other people’s projects and careers.
Establish yourself as someone who offers to help and join in on work activities, research, surveys and campaigns others might have undertaken. In that way, you will be able to nurture your professional relationships and always have the latest information about the different fields and industries which might benefit you at some point. Don’t forget to also be of someone’s benefit. If you have mutual contacts that you think can profit from each other, introduce them.
As millennials, we are the first generation that has always been told how special we are and just how incredibly talented, precious and unique we appear to be. We all got trophies just for participating because we have been told it is enough that we just tried. And then we try to reach towards our dream job, and the alarm of reality goes off, and as many times as we try to hit the snooze button (night owls you’d think you’d be pros at this) it keeps waking us up.
In this post-modern dystopia, employers, companies, the Internet and social media tells us that no one is unique, everyone is just as good as you, and you can be replaced within 2 weeks. So how do we stand out and make it to the top?
We all daydream about that movie like the moment where you take a stand in front of your boss and put yourself and your skills on display and let the crowd go wild. Ring-ring! This is real life calling you back to leave a message: your boss is probably going to be too busy doubling the profits of the company or talking to the next investor to hear you and your ideas at the very moment you want them to.
So, what do you do? You start small. Peer-to-peer networking and meeting people who are at a similar place in their careers as yourself is as equally as important. It is imperative to try and bounce ideas off your peers and coworkers and see how well accepted they will be.
Also, chances are your career will develop in the same upward line as that of your peers which might help you later as your peers become more influential.
Networking is like investing in the stock market, you might spend time and money at one moment but if you do it wisely and do your research before-hand, the profits can turn out to be very fruitful.