Try ONE simple question to expand your network:
"Who else should I talk to?"
When you are sitting across the proverbial table with a new connection over the phone or with your favorite hot beverage at a coffee shop before you leave, ask this question!
In your brief chat, your new connection just learned about you - your goals, skills, how you want to grow, companies or positions of interest - so ask who else THEY know that you can learn from!
This way your network is ever-expanding with one simple question.
How has chaos played a role in your career?
Often chaos underlies our career moves, job jumps, and growth steps. Yet, we don't talk about it. We want the clean action steps and plans, but in reality, even in those plans, it is messy!
I was talking with a friend who is due to have her baby any time and who is also moving into a new house. Transitions usually come with other transitions. In pregnancy and career.
A few years ago, I found myself in the same situation. After the birth of my third child, we lost our daycare provider and my husband needed to make a career leap. All the cards were thrown into the air. <<CHAOS>>
It took reflecting on our priorities and values, research, investigation, networking, calculating and sorting through various options to decide what was best for our family in both our home and careers.
Chaos doesn't always induce career moves but can be used as a sorting tool, too. Author, Katherine Brooks, uses chaos theory to help liberal arts graduates make sense of their professional and academic experiences. She asserts that chaos can help uncover your priorities and purpose in what may seem on the surface to be wanderings.
Not all networking is good networking. Do you agree?
This is from Caroline Ceniza-Levine and her most recent Forbes article on when to reject a LinkedIn connection request.
I look for:
➜ A freshness date. This is Ed Han's term that I love. Basically, are they engaged, active users on LinkedIn? When did they last comment or like something? Do they share original content?
➜ Common connections. Do we run in similar circles on LinkedIn? Do we follow the same people?
➜ Interesting people. If I am intrigued to know more about you and understand how I can learn from you, I am all in. A note with the connection request usually makes this determination easier.
Ceniza-Levine shares her tips >> What is your methodology?
Declare your ambition. You don't have to know all the details.
This is Bob Goff's advice in his new podcast, The Dream Big Podcast when chatting with Jason Russell. And I concur!
Being open about your ambition is like throwing a party 🎉. Let people know what you want to do - invite people in! Share your ambition like you are sending out invitations - you don't keep party invitations to yourself! Yes, it may be scary. People may laugh at your proverbial invitation or toss it aside, but maybe, just maybe, they may open the door wider, inviting more people in, connecting you to people that will benefit your new ambition. Friends may even enter the trenches of the behind-the-scenes work and planning, cheering you on!
So let people know. Parties are more fun WITH people and so are ambitions (whatever they may be!) There is power and community in vulnerability.
Now, what kind of party are you throwing?
I am squealing with delight over my client's job search success!
You don't have to be defined by your work. When you introduce yourself to someone new replace what you do with who you are.
Our identity tie to work is strong. I realized this when I decided to quit my job to stay home with my third child. It never occurred to me how I relied on my achievements at work to define who I am. I found there are no performance reviews for a stay-at-home parent.
Does who you are change because of work? Most definitely, but WHO you are is separate from what you DO.
So instead of: Hi! My name is Meg Applegate. I'm a resume writer.
Let's replace the formality with: Hi! I'm Meg. A woman of faith, driven by even the littlest of goals. I'm lit up by connections with people and prone to giggling at the cheesiest of jokes.
It's your turn. Who are you outside of what you do?
Need help discerning what makes you unique? Check out Meg’s DIY branded resume statement mini-workbook to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Carrot Club. It got my youngest son to eat his vegetables. What partnership might you need for personal and professional growth?
My three-year-old was not into veggies. My husband started face timing him at lunch to eat together. In an effort to prove carrots are in fact digestible and tasty, my husband would munch on his with great delight. My son totally bought it. Now, each weekday they bond over their carrots and eat lunch together. Hence, the start of carrot club.
Do you need a 'carrot club'? For women, in particular, your inner circle matters. According to a January 2019 research conducted by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, over 75% of women executives had an inner circle of 2-3 women. The research found that women in particular who communicated and relied on a small group of women placed at a higher job level.
So, who are your people? Who can you rely on to get you over the hurdles of personal and professional life?
If you haven't found your tribe - start one! Rally grad school friends or like-minded colleagues. Attend networking events to find your people. If you are local to Indianapolis, try Linking Indy Women.
How have you seen the power of community work in your professional life?
You are the boss of your own network. Design it thoughtfully.
Whether you realize it or not, you are already part of a variety of systems. You may just be so embedded in them that you can’t see them. Think about people in your circles at work, socially, geographically, family, community, schools, church, etc.
These are your natural networks! While some circles are chosen for you based on your workplace or where you send your kid to school, others you can take ownership.
Intentionally ADD people that ADD value.
Typically, a valuable network has these three types of people in it:
➜ Connectors. People who have large networks themselves and know a lot of different people. Their natural matchmaking capabilities see opportunities for people around them.
➜ Champions. People who want to see you succeed; cheerleaders that will speak your message without external motivation.
➜ Experts. Natural teachers who have particular expertise. Experts are imperative to your network because they can supply you with the information you need.
Build and nurture your network now by offering value to those around you. Not just when you need something.
Consider: Which type are you? Who is most valuable to you?
Join a collaborative community of professionals who are intentional about nurturing their personal and professional growth. Oh, and access to free/discount services sweetens the deal too! 😉 Join here.
Necco's candy conversation hearts are unavailable this February. Don’t worry! I'll help you bridge the conversation from awkward to intentional with a free conversation card for informational interviews.
The informational interview is the secret to a successful job search. Job search experts and resume writers alike (myself included) encourage job seekers to connect over coffee or over the phone with people who are in the job they want or working at a company of interest. How do you make it happen?
▶︎ LinkedIn request + a note
▶︎ Personal email
▶︎ In-person ask
▶︎ Phone call
Do you have to actually know the person? No, but do provide context to why you want to meet up and be specific in your ask. Provide a couple days/times for the conversation. Be specific on when you will follow-up to your initial request, too.
Once you've booked a meeting, then what? What do ask? How do you make the most of both of your time? I'll hook you up this Valentine's day with a conversation card. Sign up to receive it in your inbox free next week.