Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Scared to network

In this job market, everyone knows that networking is the best way to get a job. But many really hate the idea of networking. In fact, they’re scared to network.

Here are a few tips to overcome your fears and have the correct expectations about networking:

1. The worst thing that can happen is to be told “Sorry I don’t have time and can’t help you.”

2. The second worst thing is to not get a response.

3. Don’t expect everyone to respond.

4. Don’t expect a speedy response. Everyone is busy. Try following up with a phone call. Offer dates and times when you are in town and/or are available. Tell them “I’ll be in town all day on [name the date]” before any meetings have been set.

5. Don’t expect a job opening.

6. Offer something of value. For example, relevant research or academic/professional work that you’ve done OR an update on any shared affinity for which you have current and/or insider information (like your b-school, college, sports team).

7. Ask for others that they’d recommend you talk to.

8. Go to conferences. Many conferences need volunteers in exchange for manning the registration table (where you can meet all the attendees).

9. Thank them. Set a follow up date and offer information based on your conversation. Then actually follow up on your commitment. (The few who actually do this are most remembered and most likely to be helped in the future).

As an unknown author said, “You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.” Get networking.

Category: Networking, Tips for Students

3 Responses to Scared to network

  1. Jim says:

    For a different approach,you can always go to work for yourself. I have been a home based recruiter(headhunter) for about 10 years. It’s a business that is not for everyone but I love it.

    The name of the game is definitely networking in recruiting. There are many avenues of recruiting that someone can pursue. It’s fun and you get to work from your home office.For more information, check out my ebook(free) on how to be a home based recruiter.

    Good luck to you

  2. Andrea Rice says:

    Networking is such a critical asset in this difficult environment, but it seems to be either under-utilized due to fear of rejection/uncertainty how to do it, or abused by those who are too aggressive.

    Introductions from the right people can make all of the difference between getting invited to interview or not.
    In many cases, this happens via email. “I met Landon at an industry event… I spent time on the phone with Sam and was impressed by…”

    A brief email recommending you from the right person will guarantee that you get considered. Who are the “right” people to do an email introduction to a hiring manager? The most effective email introductions come from people that work at the target company, and that the hiring manager knows and trusts. In order of value to you, here are the types of people you’d ideally want to recommend you.

    1. Someone more senior than the hiring manager at the company you’re targeting
    2. Someone who is a peer of the targeted person at the same company
    3. Someone junior but highly regarded at the company
    4. Someone who doesn’t work at the target company, but personally knows the person you are trying to reach and is a good judge of the key skills and
    5. Someone you know well who has access to anyone who fits any of the descriptions in #1-4 above

    This is where networking comes in. Contrary to popular belief, these people do not have to know you well. Although it’s ideal if they do, they only have to know you well enough to have been impressed with you. If you really are a good candidate, this can easily be done in a five minute conversation about your relevant skills and experiences. If you have communicated the right information, they’ll be willing and happy to do an email introduction to the person you’re targeting.

    How do you find the right people for the email introduction?
    You may be lucky enough to off the top of your head, identify someone who fits into one of the groups above. If you can’t, all is not lost. There are several easy ways to find the right people.

    Get the word out. Engage your circle in helping you get the word out. Let them know what company you’re targeting and ask if they have contacts they’d be willing to introduce you to. You may have people in your network who know very senior people, and others who know people who were hired last year. You want to arm them with a few key data points so that they feel comfortable that introducing you will not waste the time of their contact. (Read Email Introductions that Generate Job Leads to see the data points you should include.) If you’re a good candidate, introducing you will make them look good.

    Use LinkedIn. You never know who your friends know, unless you’re on LinkedIn. Then your friends rolodexes are an open book. Type in the name of the individual at the target company and see who you know who knows her. You should also do a search on the company you’re targeting. Filter or screen these results by how well you know the individuals and how high they fall in the pecking order. Anyone who falls into the top 4 buckets is high quality.

    Use the GSB (and other schools you’re affiliated with) alumni directory. Search by company, and reach out to any promising individuals you identify. You’ll need to establish credibility with these individuals first.Send them a version of your elevator pitch. Let them know you’re interested in the company they work(ed) for, and ask if they’d be willing to spend 10-15 minutes to answer a few questions you have. If you handle this conversation well, it could lead to an introduction to someone within the company.

  3. Larry Chiang says:

    excellent thoughts on ‘networking’ 🙂

    I have some thoughts that my networking mentor, Susan Roane, stimulated:

    1) Host something at a conference in an industry you want to work in. Tweet-ups are popular in SF and tech conferences. Even the venerable, NSA, Nat’l Speakers Association, is starting to use social media. A lot of my friends are in engineering, so I recommended buying the first round drinks of drinks every twitterer at the American Society of Chemical Engineers that RSVPed ‘yes’ with a tweet and hashtagged “#ASCE09”

    1b) Invest in real world tuition. If you spent $5,000 every year for 14 years (that’s grades one thru 12 and then two years of community college), then you should invest another $200 per month in real world tuition. I’d spend the $120 of my $200 budget on drinks for the 12 Twitterers at ASCE 2009 West Coast Leadership Summit at Moscone West followed by dinner reception at Westin St Francis. Or I’d use another $50 and order five large pizza’s for the “afterparty” by the clock tower bar at the Westin.

    1c) I don’t love the idea of working the registration table because it makes you seem common. Very few recruiters/ hiring people can character compass the talented registration table worker and convert them to 1st year associate. Hosting is a position of power but registration tabling makes you seem like a Fox College administrative ass’t.

    2) Pre-network via social media. Getting invited may still feel like party crashing if you don’t already know a couple people. Pre-networking involves saying hi via a facebook group or Twitter hashtag (#vcSecrets, #bwe08, #Foo, #Asse9)

    3) Learning to love ‘no’ is a stretch, but tolerating a half a dozen no’s for one really good ‘maybe’ is well worth it.

    4) Close for a cell phone number. If you have a great conversation, wrap it by asking for their cell number first. I follow it by texting, “Hi, nice to meet you. what is your email? larryChiang@nullduck9.com“. If you get resistance, I joke, “I swear I won’t call you late night”.

    5) Read Susan Roane’s, “How to Work a Room” and remember that everyone is a little shy. Our choosing to stay shy is actually being kinda rude. It is rude because shy + smart can be seen as stand-off-ish.

    Hope this helps 🙂

    oh and couple more…
    6) Blog. Even if you blog with just pictures with a 100 word summary, you can get access. One guy I know tipped bribed comped and tipped his way into blogging for GigaOm. I recommend guest blogging vs starting your own blog. I even recommend posting it first as a facebook note and tagging your interviewee. “at the birds” seems like an up and coming blog, I’d fBook Dan Kessler or Andy Chan

    7) Do not email for an in person meeting. Asking for coffee meeting buried in an email is a big momentum stopper. Coffee meetings = 1.5 hrs. I get meetings because I pin down a 10 minute call that I set up via email.

    7B) Email subject line needs to be strong and communicative.
    For example, I use, “Entrepreneurship conf / VC speed dating / larry chiang / 650-283-8008”

    7C) I ping an email before I email it. I use one ping only.
    For example, I use the subject up above. In the body, I write, “Is this the best email address for you”.

    8) Get in early and leave late. The old way was to ‘big league’ by flying in late and flying out early. You as the newly minted grad, doused in the scent of presidential timber, need to outwork, outflank and outshine industry veterans and stalwarts.