Six Rules for Effective Networking

Guest Post by: Sandra Buteau, GUAA Coaching Partner

If you cringe as soon as you hear the word “networking,” you should know that you are not alone. Many of us in the world feel the same way. During the course of my professional career as a leadership and career coach, networking has been a recurring theme discussed in practically every single one of my coaching engagements. No matter where you are in your career, you need to embrace networking to expand your professional reach or move up to the next level.

Last month, as a guest Webinar speaker for the Georgetown Alumni community, I encouraged participants to view networking from a different perspective and consider it as a way of making connections, talking to people, seeking information, and building community by interacting with others. Think about it not only as a great opportunity to hear fresh ideas and open doors to help you progress in your career no matter your profession, but also to develop new friendships whether on a personal or professional level.

Some individuals have a natural talent for interacting with other people in professional and social settings while many others struggle and agonize at the thought of putting themselves out there. The good news is that networking is a skill that anyone can learn if you are committed to it and challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone from time to time.

To help you navigate the process of making connections effectively, I present to you my 6 Rules for Effective Networking.

1. Bring your true and authentic self to any networking efforts. Do not pretend someone you are not.

2. Instead of being afraid of making connections with strangers, change your frame of mind to view networking as sharing, learning, connecting, having good conversations and interactions with others.

3. To be an effective networker you must first adopt the attitude of a giver. Give every person you meet your undivided attention. Listen carefully and ask open-ended questions seeking to learn as much as you can about the other person to support or offer your help with no expectation that something will be given to you in return.

4. As you are building and maintaining your personal network, focus on quality of the relationships. Networking is not a numbers game. If you are planning to attend an event, avoid committing yourself to meet everyone that you come across. Be prepared to devote time and energy to develop meaningful and long-lasting connections.

5. Think of networking as a two-way street. Effective networking requires “sharing.” Someone helps you out today and you help them out later.

6. Always be prepared to make connections. Be open to starting conversations and speaking to everyone around you. You will be surprised that when you ask someone to tell you their story, amazing connections can develop.

What do you commit to do today to move forward in your networking journey?

Advertisements

Building Relationships At Work

work

As smart, strategic, and successful as you may be, often times getting things done is all about relationships: who you know, who you work with, who you can trust, and who you can rely on.  Building successful relationships at work is critical to your success. The bottom line is that if people like you and respect you they will be more likely to want to work with you.  If they want to work with you, you will be more likely to get things done. In a nutshell, it comes down to being likeable.

Being “likeable” has seemingly taken on bad connotations in the workplace… that you can’t be powerful or a leader if you are too nice… But being likeable in the workplace has nothing to with being too nice and everything to do with being respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.  And being nice too can’t hurt.

Being likeable doesn’t have to mean that you are always in a good mood, that you don’t have high expectations, that you agree with colleagues 100% of the time.  Perhaps we should re-define likeable in the workplace to be respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.   Likewise, being successful or powerful doesn’t have to mean that you are cold, distant, and aggressive.

And being likeable means that if disagreement does occur, it is less likely to derail progress and goals.

So, the questions become:
How can you balance being likeable with pushing forward on your priorities?
How can you say no or disagree but still be maintain critical relationships in the workplace?
How can you create relationships that further your team and organizational goals?

1. Build your brand
Be aware of, and continue to build your personal brand in the workplace. What are you known for? How would colleagues describe you?  Are you known for building bridges? Being innovative?  Diligent? High level strategist or detail focused? Once you start to understand your current brand (go ahead, ask your colleagues!), you can begin to either tweak, change, or build your brand. Check out this ACS webinar on the subject.  Having a great personal brand in the workplace can create a solid foundation for building relationships.

2.  Check in and reach out
Even if you don’t have a project that interfaces directly with specific colleagues at that moment, chances are you will in the future so keep those relationships alive and well in the mean time. If you see an article that may be of interest to them, pass it along… If they are in the midst of hiring on their team, keep your network in mind… Celebrate their successes even if they have nothing to do with your team… Send them a quick note to say hello.

3.  Use humor as a bridge builder
Diffuse tense situations when appropriate with a bit of humor. Not a stand up comedian? That’s okay… At least be willing to laugh along with those who are!

4.  Have perspective taking skills
We often get so wrapped up in our own projects, priorities, and deadlines that we forget to actually hear and digest what people are saying – both overtly and subtly.  Are they in the midst of a high pressure project? Understaffed? Dealing with personal issues? Who are their key stakeholders and how do they differ from yours? Understanding the various perspectives at the table helps make things feel less personal if there is disagreement. Understand how your role fits in with the overall organization (and in relationship to other teams).

6.  Honesty is the best policy
Instead of beating around the bush with colleagues, give them your perspective up front. If you own your perspective up front and overtly acknowledge the fact that theirs may be slightly different, you move the conversation into compromise and discussion as opposed to defense.

7.  Get to know colleagues outside of work
While everyone is busy and has multiple commitments outside of the office, taking advantage of office social gatherings – whether that is eating lunch together or or going to the occasional happy hour, is important to your relationship building.

8.  Don’t burn bridges
As infuriating as colleagues can be, in a world that is all about who you know it’s never a good idea to burn bridges. Networks among people in an industry and/or employer can be strong – don’t underestimate them.

At the end of the day, you may not always make decisions in the workplace that make everyone happy. Colleagues may disagree with you, they may even adamantly disagree with you. But if your colleagues respect and trust you, it will make it that much easier to swallow.

 

85% of Jobs Are Found Through Weak Ties

… In other words,  connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching.   LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.

We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist.  A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee.  In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work.  Here are just a few of his insights:

  • Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
  • It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
  • Your resume is currently your job search currency.  John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
  • Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
  • Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.

The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:

1.  Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox.  There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly.  So, why do they matter?   They matter because they tell you (and others)  about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.

2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.”  What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields.  Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard!  Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.

3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn.  Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.

4.  Follow Georgetown University Page Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.

5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research.  See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.

6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network.  New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email.  It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network.  Use them.

7.  Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though.  Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.

8.  Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase).  While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).

7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!

8.  Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile.  Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t.   You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance.  Thanks, LinkedIn!

9.  Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.

So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network.  And do it now.  People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Thank you, John Hill!

GU@SXSW

Georgetown is headed to SXSW. Are you?  4 events are happening for Hoyas – we hope you’ll join us! #GUatSxSW

Georgetown SxSWedu Panel
: Designing the Future University from the Inside
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 
1:30-2:30 PM
Why college? Is the degree doomed? Can universities be unbundled? Higher education is at a critical juncture point. We believe that the decisions we make over the next 2-3 years will determine what Georgetown is going to look like 20-30 years from now.  Our panel will convene “ed” (academic) and “tech” (digital, technology) to discuss how universities can be proactive in their evolution amidst the potential disruptions in higher education. We’ll share how we’re experimenting with ways to deliver a valued education and using a university-wide design challenge to explore the future(s) of the university

Georgetown Reception
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
6-8:30 PM
Malverde at La Condesa: 400 B W 2nd Street, Austin, TX
Join us for cocktails and conversation with education thought-leaders, our senior University leadership, and fellow alumni. Featuring Robert M Groves, Ph.D, Provost, Lisa Davis, Chief Information Officer, Randall Bass, Ph.D, Vice Provost for Education. Space in limited.
RSVP here by February 27
Host: Alex Shoghi, B’04

Redesigning the Future of Georgetown
Friday, March 7th
12-1:30PM
Conjunctured Coworking: 1309 East 7th Street, Austin, TX
Help us imagine the Future of Higher Learning at Georgetown. Dr. Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education, will lead us through a lab exercise modeled on an undergraduate design course to explore issues facing higher education. We will pick a point in the future, define the features of that world, and create a Georgetown that will most effectively produce leaders of industry and society.
Invite-Only. RSVP here to Molly (mkb101@georgetown.edu) by February 28 

Georgetown Meetup
Saturday, March 8, 2014 
1PM
Little Woodrow’s: 520 W 6th Street, Austin, TX
Meet fellow creative, digitally-savvy Hoyas and watch the Hoyas taken on Big East rival Villanova

Collecting No’s

Tonight’s homework: collecting no’s.

First, I must give credit where credit is due.  Joe Scafidi (B’95) casually mentioned the concept of “collecting no’s” when I ran into him an a Hoya networking event. I was immediately and enthusiastically intrigued. In fact, I think I might have scared him with how I reacted to this little exercise. It’s brilliant on so many levels.  It’s a short experiment in human nature and social behavior, but one that has daily implications.

The concept is this: ask people for things. See what they say.  And you’ll probably be surprised how often the answer is yes. Ask a stranger for an umbrella.  A professor for an extension on a deadline. Ask your boss to leave early.  Ask someone for career advice.  The only rules are you can’t ask the same person twice and each ask must be different.  What you typically learn is that very rarely is the answer no and that everything can be a negotiation.  The question is, how many asks do you need to make in order to get 10 no’s? Probably more than you think.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Just ask.  Someone once told me that FEAR stands for “False Expectations About Risk.” Many times we assume the answer is no before we even ask so we don’t even bother.
  • We all want to be liked. Human nature general seeks to please (or at least makes us feel like it’s socially unacceptable to say no).  This works in your favor when you are the one asking, but also provides lessons for those of us who can’t say no to the barrage of requests that abound daily.  The fact is, it’s often easier for people to say yes than to risk conflict and if the ask is in the future it’s easy to say yes in the present.
  • It’s all about the negotiation.  Things are rarely as black and white as “yes” and “no.” How do you get to the place of “yes” by understanding the needs and wants of the other party?  If you’re really negotiating there isn’t a “winner” or “loser,” you both walk away happy.
  • It’s all in how you ask. How can you ask in a way that makes it even tougher to say no?

And some implications:

  • The good news: When it comes to career networking and reaching out to acquaintances and strangers for advice, this is great news. People will probably say yes more often than they say no.  If there is a mutual connection (friend, alma mater, etc.) I would venture to guess that this increases the likelihood of yes.
  • The bad news: When it comes to our own time management and work/life balance this tendency toward yes works against us.  We over commit and wonder why we are stressed and exhausted.

Let us know how your “collecting no’s” goes!  Tweet us at #GUCollectNos