How big is your network? A word of warning – this is not about the numbers .
I want you to think about a couple of things
- which of the people in your network would you be confident enough would do you a favour if you asked?
- who knows them that you don’t know yet?
If we look at the first question how are you managing your online relationships to maximise the benefit? Does that sound a bit cynical? It might confuse your friends and followers if up until now you have used Facebook and Twitter as places to hang out and have fun. But if you have a LinkedIn profile then surely the purpose of being there is for business reasons. If you are in the process of career transition – either you have decided to start to look for your next role, or that decision has been made by or for you – then that is a good “business” reason.
So who – in any of your existing networks – could you ask for help and/or advice ? Who is in the industry or sector you would like to be in? Who is working for a company you consider would be a great employer. Who is the good listener who will ask you the questions to help you work out what the questions are you should be asking?!
Now depending on the level of trust in these relationships – how much information you give them and how much they know about you that they admire or impresses them – they might choose to open up their networks to you too.
Using LinkedIn you can check out people and organisations you would like to reach using the search function and this will show who is connected with those. If they are not 1st connections then you will see from the search results who in your network could introduce you to them. This is of course where the trust comes in as few of us would introduce someone to our close contacts who we hardly know or whose reputation and credibility is suspect.
To help them to help you it is key that you know what it is you asking for. Busy people might take time to answer a specific question but may baulk at agreeing to vaguely meet for coffee. If you don’t have clarity on this yet then take some time to work it out – with the help of the good listeners or those who ask great questions in your network.
And this is the time when you should have refined your online profile to show what you have done, how you have done it, what skills and passions you have and what you are aiming for so that members of your network can satisfy themselves that they really know enough about you. If your profile is confused, full of jargon or simply a list of jobs it will be harder for a contact to highlight what they can “sell” to a potential employer on your behalf.
The bottom line of all of this is that others who know and trust you will probably want to help you as much as they can but you need to make that job easy for them and you have to respect that trust.
And if your network has helped you in the past – or you have helped someone in your own network – it would be great if you would share.