You’ve probably heard the old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ That adage certainly holds true when it comes to finding a job – according to a recent survey, 96% of positions are filled by candidates who came to the employer via referrals or introductions! Therefore it’s not surprising that most people think that they have to network to get a job. Unfortunately, they often equate the two and assume that ‘networking’ is the same as ‘finding a job’. But let me let you in on a secret:
The goal of networking is not to get a job. The goal is to build your network.
So the next time you go to a networking event, do NOT go with the expectation of finding someone who can or wants to hire you. That will set you up for failure and you’ll be less likely to go to another networking event. Remember: the goal of networking is to build your network.
So if you go to an event, make your goal more specific: “I want to talk to 5 people who can give me insights into my chosen career.” Or: “I want to collect 5 referrals for people who are not at this event.” Those are objectives and outcomes that are entirely in your control, and will thus be more achievable. In the process of pursuing those objectives, you will get a chance to speak about your career objectives and highlight your accomplishments.
But DO NOT ask your partner about open positions at their company.
If the person you speak with knows of positions that you might be suitable for, AND if they like you and what you’ve said, they will most likely volunteer that information. So don’t put them in the awkward position of having to say ‘no’. Nobody likes to say ‘no.’ Put them in a position where they can help and say ‘yes.’ Ask questions such as ‘who else should I speak with to educate myself on this topic?’ or ‘who, in your opinion, is the biggest expert in this field?’ These questions will make your contact feel knowledgeable AND will help you build your network.