[05.07.13]
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5 Ways To Stop Hiding And Start Openly Networking

This post is about open networking. And why it’s the right thing to do during job search.

open networking, learning to network, hiding, stop hiding, networking ideas, strategy, job search

Hiding in the shadows can be a compelling image.  It suggests a cunning and opportunistic position.  Ready to strike.

Rambo did it in First Blood.  His eyes darting left and right out of the rain-drenched mud

Trap door spiders do it for hours.  Waiting for the right vibration to crash up and snatch their prize

FBI informants look intriguing in a dark alley, cigarette dangling from their well-informed finger tips

But it is a hapless method for making friends.  It asks a lot of your network to find you.  And it just doesn’t work out very well during job search.

So if you decide that “coy and hard to find” will be your networking posture.  Or if that is simply the result of your inaction, you’ll need something.

You’ll need an incredible amount of patience.

Because what you didn’t see in the Rambo movie was Sylvester Stallone pulling his arm out of the mud to check his commando watch. After 6 hours of waiting for his victim to walk by. While the mud body spa sucked all the moisture out his skin. And his back screamed out in pain.

Most of us don’t have that kind of time.

And if you are looking for work or hoping to land a new contract via your network, know this.

No one likes to be pounced on.  But that’s what it feels like when someone from your past pops up with a big request.  Not that we don’t want to help.  And we often do.  But it feels a bit abrupt.

Your network does not generate or re-generate instantly.  It takes months of hard labor.  To get the word out to a busy and distracted crowd.

And, for many, it is a teachable moment.  Teachable because the struggle to build or re-build comes very slowly if you’ve been in the shadows for years.  Without an obvious need for others outside your social or work circle.

Those who have been “taught” are now better for having struggled through the re-generation.  They have developed new habits.  And are actively reaching out to help others.  Because the frustration of “struggling through” is seared into their memory. They are practicing open networking.

So, how do you operate out of the shadows and build a long-term open networking strategy?

Here are five things you can do today to establish a more open networking posture to the world:

1.  Be A Connector

Keep a list handy of five people you know who are out of work or desperately looking for a much needed new contract.  You can keep your own simple spreadsheet that details the needs of your network.  As you meet new people, consider whether any of them can be of help to your list of five.

2.  Be Available

If you are employed, let it be known that you are available for informational interviews.  To share your wealth of knowledge with those who need to hear it.  And while I know that these interviews take valuable time, they represent the type of giving posture that auto-generates good will.  And connects you to the grapevine.  Whether you are a big company executive or the owner of a small consulting firm, someone out there needs you.

3.  Be Public

Pick a single networking event in your community and show up regularly.  You’ll be amazed at how many quality people are out looking for work or needing to create connections to build a business.  Offer to speak at that event about your company, about your role there or about a big upcoming initiative.  You can become a person of influence outside of your office.  With a group of people who really need it.

4.  Be Charitable

Identify a local charity of interest and offer a few hours a week or each month to provide ideas or strategic direction.  You can become a board member or simply offer hours as you have time.  This spreads your talents beyond the reaches of your company.  This is also one way to build a more stable life and career platform.  One that isn’t instantly upended if someday you lose your job.

5.  Be Open

Be open to introductions from your network.  Sometimes these are simply a quick fifteen-minute phone call during your commute home or a short e-mail conversation.  But your open networking posture will allow others to feel comfortable around you.  Comfortable to ask something of you.  And, importantly, open to accept a call from you in two years.  When you are in need.

In the end, these efforts will help you build networking capital.  It may surprise you how little time it takes to maintain your newly found and highly effective networking habits.

Someday you will likely find yourself out of work or needing something from the world around you.  A network will be there waiting.  Glad to return the favor.

And you won’t have to pounce.

Note: This post originally appeared on MENG Blend.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Networking

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