"networking"

Fri 11 October 2019
In 1914, electricians were noticing a rift in the career advancement of themselves vs. their peers. Some electricians were given easier jobs and greater job prospects because they were friends with managers, owners, and/or other people in power. These electricians were not given these opportunities because of their electrical prowess, but rather because of their relationship with those that mattered.  In May of 1914, The Electrical Worker published that electricians were adopting the phrase “it’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!”


This rift the electricians were feeling begged the questions: How do we get to know the right people? Who are the right people? Will people give me any time if they know nothing about me? Are my only connections my family connections?


These questions are just as relevant today as they were in 1914. Tony Robbins has said that “70% of every experience a person will have will come from his/her network”. I don’t know if this information is factually proven, but it seems to make sense and back up the claim that “it’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!”


For a professional entering a new industry, a recent college graduate entering the working world, or anyone that is seeking to have more relationships, building a network can be difficult. If you are a person who is seeking to meet new people, it is easy to ask yourself “what do I have to offer?” Without any knowledge, connections, and resources, it is easy to write yourself off as somebody that has nothing to offer.


What you may not realize is that you have a ton to offer in terms of your time and willingness to listen.


PEOPLE LOVE TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES!


By seeking to understand another person’s story, you are showing them respect and empathy towards the decisions that person has made in his/her life. Essentially, by listening to another person talk about themselves, you make them feel valued because you care about what they are saying and it is deeply personal to them. No amount of money, connections, or knowledge can make a person feel as great as having someone take the time to listen to them.


Another thing you may not realize is that no matter how famous, wealthy, or powerful a person is, you are not annoying until you receive a response. Thus, be persistent as “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This could mean sending multiple emails, phone calls, showing up at their place of work, or even writing a handwritten letter.


The people you should be reaching out to are the people in positions that you aspire to be. Jim Rohn once said that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you aspire to be in a leadership position at a company, you should be spending time with people who are currently leaders at the company.


After you know the right people, who those people are, and have taken the time to listen to them, you can then easily transition to being understood. The key to being understood is to clearly and concisely convey what you are interested in doing. You can typically count on the 5 to 1 rule. What this means is that you have to give somebody roughly 5 times as much active listening as they will actively listen to you. So if you have taken 15 minutes to listen to somebody’s story and talk about himself, he will give you roughly 3 minutes of actively listening to what you have to say. Therefore, be concise and clear about what you are interested in.


However, there is a trick to the 5 to 1 rule that can give you more active listening time. If you ask questions to the person you are connecting with on the topic of what you are interested in, you are showing that person respect. By asking questions, you are conveying that you care about what they have to say and value their response. At the same time, you are actively engaging them to think about a response to your question as opposed to just listening to you.


Ultimately, by asking the right questions and conveying your interests clearly and concisely, you are making it possible for that person to recommend other people to you. This is how a network grows.


Whether you are a professional entering a new industry, a recent college graduate entering the working world, or anyone that is seeking to have more relationships, these are some tips to getting your foot in the door. Strictly relying on your friends and family’s relationships for connections is a lot of eggs to put in one basket. Also, since it takes significantly more effort to build relationships on your own vs. via friends/family, you will likely value relationships you built on your own more than those you received from friends/family.  


“It’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!” is very true today. However, there are many ways to get to know the right people. Utilizing family connections can be extremely valuable, but the ability to build relationships on your own is paramount to expanding your network.

Fri 23 August 2019
The concept of networking is kind of like the concept of riding the biggest, scariest roller coaster at an amusement park. Engaging a stranger in initial conversation is kind of like the part of the roller coaster where you are being carried up and all you hear is the “clunk clink clunk clink clunk clink” of the belt carrying the roller coaster to the climax. It is similar because you are nervous for what will happen next. You have no clue how that person will react from you approaching them just like you have no clue how you will feel once hitting that huge drop on the roller coaster. For the most part, you will end up satisfied and happy that you reached out to that stranger because you not only proved something to yourself that you could do it, but you learned something new or made a new connection from doing so. Occasionally you will end up with a headache at the end (similar to a rusty old wooden roller coaster) because the stranger you reached out to is annoying and won’t stop talking about something you are not interested in. But never will you end up with a negative outcome from networking.


Networking leads to careers, business partnerships, and friendships. These seem like outcomes people would seek in their lives, but why do most young professionals and college students employ networking only during times of desperation? To prove my point, think about the first two weeks of college. For the most part, every other freshman you met was super nice and friendly to you. Why? Because they (and you) were desperate for friends in a new and unusual environment. In a professional setting, attending alumni networking events and professional development seminars did not seem very attractive when you were happy in your job, but once the job started to become monotonous and you didn’t see yourself in a future at that company, those networking and development events became more attractive to attend. When you are less desperate to change, you are less likely to network.


This is not to say that all young professionals and college students only network in times of desperation, but a large quantity of us do.


The trick is to look at networking like this: networking is not a transaction. There is no clear outcome of what will occur from taking the time to speak with somebody. Just because a person’s expertise or insight does not interest you now, does not mean that their knowledge is worthless to you. Young professionals and college students know that some of the outcomes from networking include landing careers, business partnerships, and friendships, but those don’t typically stem from the first meeting one has with a stranger. More likely than not, it is a person recommending you to meet someone else that they know. Therefore, as opposed to trying to attempt the home run of landing a job from a stranger you met at a cocktail party, a better tactic could be to just build a positive working relationship where they know about you and what you are looking for and potentially recommending somebody for you to connect with. Recommendations are one of the leading ways people land careers. You can’t receive any recommendations if you don’t go out and network.


In the end, networking is something that should be done all of the time by everyone (especially young professionals and college students). Keeping a keen track of those you are connected with is important because although you may not value a person’s expertise now, you may value it later. Plus, if you are only networking when you are desperate, it is very likely evident to the other person you are speaking with that you are desperate. Those that want to work with desperate people want to work with desperate people because they are likely desperate themselves to work with anyone. It is ironic how desperate people attract other desperate people because desperate people are the last types of people a desperate person is trying to attract.

Fri 9 August 2019
As humans, we have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others. Why? Where does this drive come from and how do humans go about achieving this acceptance? If you don’t believe or aren’t certain humans have an inherent drive to be accepted or liked by others, think about your first day at work. Were you nervous? Did you try to not screw up or ask dumb questions? Did you try to do extra tasks to convey your work ethic? If so, a primary reason you did one, some, or all of those things is because you have an inherent drive to be accepted and liked by others (in this example, your colleagues). The ability to build acceptance with those around you is the ability to build rapport.


Up until about the mid-1990’s, the only way to gain this acceptance was through your actions with others and how you communicated with others verbally. But in the 1990’s, amazing technological advancements allowed us to communicate and build acceptance from others nonverbally. How convenient? Why attend conferences and meet others in person to convey a message you are trying to get across to many people when you can just as easily write a blog? Why thank somebody in person when you can send them a thank you text just as easily? Technology has allowed us to communicate in ways we never thought possible 30 years ago.


I have interviewed over 1,000 professionals this past year and asked them what skills they think recent college graduates lack after graduation. Far and away the most common answer was recent graduates lack the ability to communicate. But why? With all of the technological know-how and all of the additional forms of communication, how can recent college graduates lack communication skills?


Has technology discouraged us to communicate face to face?


From these responses, yes! Today, you are considered weird and deemed socially awkward if you start a conversation with a stranger without some sort of goal or objective from the conversation. It is almost as if the efficiency that has been provided in technological communication has permeated into social communication. It feels as if physical conversations are a transaction and if the transaction is not apparent to both parties then nothing positive can be gleaned from that conversation.


Is this right? Can society function with purely technological communication and only communicate face to face “when needed”? I don’t think so.

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