[09.13.10]
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Career Networking Is Not Magic

Thom Singer, career expert, personal branding expert, career networkingOver the coming months, I’ll be featuring some of the fantastic career experts.  Through their own words via guest blog posts and by highlighting them in relevant posts where their expertise really shines.

Today I get to highlight the expertise of my good friend, Thom Singer.  Thom is a career networking and personal branding expert living in Austin, Texas.  Thom’s guest post today highlights the hard work and, to use Thom’s words, “tenacity” required for successful career networking.

Thom is also a professional speaker, author and entrepreneur.  I wrote a profile on Thom’s most recent book a few months back.  Batteries Not Included: 66 Tips To Energize Your Career.  You can find a number of Thom’s books on this page: Great Books For Job Search, Career and Life.

From here on, you are listening to Thom:

When people find themselves in a job search everyone tells them they must “go network”.  They are pushed into attending business events and feel they need to make up for lost time in trying to establish long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.  But “going” to network is the wrong way.  Networking is not a destination, it is a lifestyle.

The problem is that networking is not magic.  Meeting a stranger does not make them part of your network, it makes them someone you have met.  There is a big difference between trading business cards and having a friendship.  People ambitiously help their friends.  Not always the same with some random persons (who is desperate for a job) they encountered at a Chamber of Commerce dinner one time.

It takes years to establish a strong network that will serve as a career safety net.  Showing up in your business community only when you are looking for a job will leave you convinced networking does not work.  I hear it all the time from people who need something that “networking does not work”.  Those who have adopted networking as an ongoing part of their career will sing the praises of the process.  Hmmmmmmmm….. see a connection?

To network correctly you must help others.  People notice you more when you bring them things instead of asking them for assistance.  When you are freaked out by your own need for a job it is hard to be a resource for others.  This makes a lot of people network backwards…. looking for help rather than giving help first.  It wont work that way.

This does not mean that networking is not helpful in your job search.  It does mean that you have to enter your networking activities with a realistic set of expectations.  If you mistakenly think showing up at a happy hour will land you a job by Friday, then you will become disenchanted very quickly.

There is no magic to building the type of relationships that lead to referrals, job opportunities and more success.  It is like dating.  I assume you did not propose marriage to a spouse the night you met them.  Thus do not jump the gun with networking connections and assume you are closer to a real friendship before it is time.

Job seekers whom I work with in developing a networking and visibility plan for their career must realize that the networking they are doing today is not necessarily for the next job… but for the next next job.  Sure, you might make a connection that leads to new employment, but that is not the end of your networking. You must be making new relationships today that will help you in three to five years.  I know you cannot wait that long to find a job, but it can take that amount of time for meaningful opportunities to come from those you meet this week.

I assume most job seekers wish they had a huge support group in place before they got laid off.  Thus you need the mindset that you will never be caught off guard again.  Make networking and establishing meaningful connections part of your long-term strategy.  The new job you get could end quickly and you will find your established network more helpful than new networking connections.  Nobody should ever find themselves without a strong network more than once in their career.

Tenacity pays off in networking, not magic!

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Thom Singer is a professional speaker and the author of seven books on the power of business relationships and networking, and a eighth on presentation skills.  He has spent over 20 years in sales, marketing, and business development roles with major corporations and AM LAW 100 law firms.  He regularly consults with corporations, law firms and individuals on how to cultivate their personal brands and establish professional connections that will lead to more referral business.

Singer is the author of the “Some Assembly Required Blog” and creator of the online “Networking Quotient Quiz” .  He and his wife, Sara, make their home in Austin, Texas, and are the parents of two highly spirited daughters.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Networking

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