Networking is like gardening; it requires water and regular upkeep to flourish. Harvard Business School estimates that 65-85 percent of jobs are filled through networking. The Adler Group estimates in their 2016 study of 3,000 professionals that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler). If networking is so important, when should I start “planting my seeds?”
The answer is to start networking when you have a job. Don’t tend to your network only when you need something. Start planting now and worry about harvesting later. All relationships should be reciprocal. Make sure to always add value to the conversation by offering your help or expertise rather than just asking for a favor.
A healthy network does not grow overnight. Just like in gardening, different seeds germinate at different times. A robust network takes years to develop, not months. Your garden will only stay strong if you do routine maintenance. Reach out to your contacts, connect personally and focus on them. Send them some research that you conducted that might interest them.
Once you have a network, stratify it into various groups. You can put your network into categories such as: very helpful, helpful, somewhat helpful, and not helpful. Follow up with the groups in different intervals based upon their helpfulness. It is also important not to discount the help of complete strangers. Even if you aren’t fond of someone, keep them in your network and connect with them regardless of how you feel. Time can be a great healer.
When reconnecting with people in your network, do not ask for a response. Simply reach out to let them know you hope they are well and that they are top of mind – this will in turn keep you top of mind.
Stay tuned for Chris’ intel on interviewing!