I love this quote from Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time: “As my dad used to say, no one becomes an astronaut by accident.” A key secret to success in any endeavor is the intent to achieve it (Ferrazzi, 23). Once you have a clearly established goal in life, you can identify the best way to meet the people you need to meet in order to achieve the goal. However, networking can also help you along the path to discovering what you want to do.
Remember the ‘take your daughter or son to work days,’ back when you were a kid? I thought those days were awesome – instead of going to school, you got to dress up like mom or dad and spend the day with them. Who says those days are over? You can use networking to work your way into informational interviews or even job shadowing. And if you present yourself as non-threatening, most people will be open to helping you out – hey, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves and tell you (indirectly of course) how important they are? The most they will tell you is no, and if they do, ask someone else.
Informational interviews also help in creating an essential element in networking – building it before you need it (Ferrazzi 42). I frequently get a call from a current or past student, telling me that some job just opened and asking me if I know anyone who works there. In many cases I do, but guess what – it’s often too late for me to reach out to them. You need to have built those relationships before the job posts, because now, everyone and their mother is applying for it. But how in the world did you know that a position was going to open – well, if you had targeted that company then you can start building your contacts there, or, just make it a policy to network with EVERYONE you meet. Here are some other clues:
- Get to know people as friends, not as potential clients or customers
- Do good work for your current employer first – build a good reputation (many people say they aren’t doing their best work because they aren’t in the “right” place yet – too bad, grow where you’re planted, then you’ll get noticed and be desired by others (Ferrazzi 43)
- Remember that the more people you meet, the more opportunities will be available (Ferrazzi 45)
- Don’t schmooze – its not sincere and people can spot you a mile away – be genuine, be interesting, have opinions and support them in a friendly way (Ferrazzi 58-59). I’m reminded of the movie Bad Teacher, where the character played by Justin Timberlake is everyone’s friend – his opinions change depending on who he is with at the time – it’s incredibly annoying!