Liz Lynch, founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of the newly released Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online, mastered the skill of networking from the ground up and is now a sought-after speaker who brings a practical and insightful perspective to networking that has connected with a global audience. Her printed and audio products have sold on six continents, she’s been invited to speak at conferences and organizations around the world and her writings have been translated into multiple languages.
So, when Liz invited me to join her virtual interview series contest for bloggers, I was delighted to sign on! Liz touts her new book as “the essential guidebook for building business relationships in a wired world.” (Please vote for my interview by clicking HERE and scrolling to vote for me in week #2)
I enjoyed the opportunity to include her expert perspective on a topic regular readers know is one of the most important for job seekers: networking for success!
Here are my questions and what Liz had to say:
What “homework” should prospective networkers do before they attempt to engage in new networking relationships?
I’m glad you asked about homework, because so many people go into networking situations completely unprepared, expecting magic to happen. The best homework is to create a plan for your networking (Chapter 13 of Smart Networking takes you step-by-step to develop one). You want an overall plan, a big picture strategy, but you also want a plan for your ground game. Before you go into a networking event or even a one-on-one meeting, know exactly why you’re going, what you want to know and what you want to convey about yourself. Having a plan will help you sound more confident and give you more confidence. It will also help you achieve what you want much faster.
How do you advise busy people seeking to take advantage of the best online AND in-person networking? What are the “must haves” in a successful networking suitcase?
In marketing it’s almost always more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. If you’re churning and burning through your network, you’ll have to do a lot more work and spend a lot more time just to stay even. So if I had to pick the “must haves” they would be those tools that allow you to stay in touch with your network and communicate with them easily, namely online sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, and those skills like mastering the art of the ask that help you get the help you need when you need it.
What are your top three tips to help professionals who are behind the 8-ball in today’s economy because they haven’t already built a strong network?
- Realize that you do have a network already of former colleagues, classmates, etc. and it’s worth spending time reconnecting with those folks to re-establish your connection.
- Use online networking sites to find these contacts and invite them to connect with you so you have an easy way to reach out to them later.
- Tell everyone you know what you are looking for.
How can an unemployed job seeker network effectively without seeming desperate?
First take action with the steps outlined in the previous question, so you have your network set up to help you. Then, take additional actions to get visible. It may be tempting to stay at home and not want to get out in public because you don’t feel great about yourself, but start meeting people in different ways, like volunteering at a local charity or signing up for art class. Depending how long you’ve been job hunting, getting in a new environment can help shake things up and give you a strong purpose to follow that can spill over into improving how you feel about your job search.
What advice do you have about cultural differences to consider when networking?
I was in China in June and realized how people there seem much more comfortable asking questions that we wouldn’t find appropriate here in the U.S. Questions like, “How much money do you make?” would leave most of us aghast. Networking across borders requires diplomacy. It’s helpful if you know you’re going to be traveling to get some guidance from a local. And be prepared to respectfully decline to answer questions that make you uncomfortable.
What questions do you have about networking? I’d be happy to answer them in a future post or direct you to a resource!
Don’t forget that I am available to help with all of your job search needs! Everything you need to know is right here on this site!