“John, I already have a strong existing network who I can tap into to help me find a job,” a recent career services client said to me. “What I need help with is beyond that network because I know I can count on this network to help me.” Those can be famous last words depending upon how you work your existing network. One of the biggest opportunities you will have in any career transition will be the existing network you work. How you work your existing network can make or break your job search focus. Unfortunately, many people who think they know the existing people in their network so well do not work that network properly.
On the other side of the I have a great network that will do things for me mindset is the reality of responses I get from those people’s network. Let me give you a sampling of comments I have directly received from so-called secure networking friends of my clients.
John, Tim thinks he’s going to be able to get this VP level position and I just don’t think he understands that the interview and vetting process is going to be as hard as it is.
It’s good that you are helping him because I really think he assumes a lot when it comes to salary. He’s just thinking he can go from IBM right into these smaller companies and its just not going to be that easy.
John, you need to make sure he has his interviews down. On just my informal talks with him I don’t think he understands how grueling and petty some of these interviewers are or how many hoops they make you jump through.
So these people like so many in career search and career services come to me with their ideas on how to improve their search. They often assume that their network will be impressed with them or that they do not need to prepare to network within their network. Simply put your network or your closest contacts may not tell you what you are doing wrong.
They may not be willing to let you know what you need to do to impress them and get them actually working very hard for you. But those contacts often tell me what they would want you to do as you network with your friends, closer acquaintances and family.
So here is not a full list of suggestions but a primer on what you need to do to network within your network:
Don’t go to your network and networking meeting with your resume in hand asking for a critique. Unless your network has asked to do this come in with polished, professionally rendered documents that you may or may not share. Only share them if asked.
Ask about how your network would like you to prepare for the meeting with them.
Verbally give that person an idea of the types of opportunities you think you would like to do, including specific names of companies and titles of positions.
Let them know how flexible you would be about joining a large company or something small, whether you would take a non-profit type of position or any other.
Let that person or your network know your salary ranges and types of titles you would consider. Be clear and decisive.
Have at least 10 companies or organizations you could mention that interest you and that you have researched. Print out specific leads to look at with this person.
Then ask that person if you could connect on Linked In but be sure to have a solid brand on Linked In before you ask someone to associate with you.
Bring a notepad and pen along with your folder of other notes.
Ask that person what you could do to help them in any way. Don’t go into this meeting thinking you are needy. You should have something to offer.
Ask your network if you could send updates approximately weekly about your progress and send him a resume if he has some contacts at some point.
Tell your network you are putting together a professional board of advisors regarding your career moves and you would be honored if he would be on that board.
Make up a few nice benes or just let that person/your network know that you want a trusted group of professionals around you to keep you focused.
Image Credit: instantshift.com