Category: Networking/Personal Branding


How to Be Realistic About Networking

Networking is a necessary part of the career development process. It helps you discover opportunities you never knew existed. This could include a career that is just the thing that fits nicely with your passions and strengths. Or it could include opportunities in a field you’re already passionate about. But most importantly, it helps you build long-lasting professional relationships.

Since 80% of the workforce found their opportunities (whether working for someone else or for themselves) through networking, it makes sense to spend 80% of your career development and job search on networking. But before you dive into networking, you need to check your expectations about networking, and make sure they’re realistic.

Unrealistic Networking Expectations

When I used to work as a college career adviser at a local university, I had several students wanting to go into the music industry. While most of those students understood the need to network, some would put it off until graduation. This was a huge mistake! Especially since going into the music industry where getting to know the insiders is more challenging than in other industries.

I know this from personal experience when I used to do image consulting for recording artists. It took me three times longer to develop my network with music industry professionals than it did in my previous industry. In fact, it took about three years before people started saying, “Oh, yeah, I know you!”

If one of my seniors getting ready to graduate had waited until graduation to begin his or her networking efforts, he or she was about three years behind the competition who started their networking efforts their sophomore year. Those who had already been fostering professional relationships were more likely to land a job upon graduation.

Even if your own chosen industry takes less time to get to know the insiders, it’s true the sooner you start developing relationships with appropriate contacts, the sooner you’ll see the fruits of your labor. In other words, expecting it to happen overnight is unrealistic.

Realistic Networking Expectations

That’s also not to say it can’t happen quickly. I have two examples of each scenario from my own career. First, I met the vice president of a Nashville-based company while attending an event downtown at the Entrepreneur Center. An exchange of business cards and one brief conversation a month later he hired me to do some contract work for him. And I’ve been working with him for three and a half years now. I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly. It just did.

This same gentleman introduced me to a wonderful small group of local business owners at the same time he had introduced another woman to the same group. For two and a half years I got to know these business owners in a very close-knit way, including the other woman introduced to the group. In that time we shared our celebrations and concerns on a weekly basis. After getting to know each other for two and a half years on such a level, she also hired me to do some contract work for her business. Again, I didn’t expect this to happen, but with time, it did.

The “Organic” Approach

In both situations, I never asked them if they had a job for me. Instead, after taking the time to establish a rapport with them, they approached me with the opportunity to work with them. I never entered either relationship with the expectation of getting something from them. This is what I call the “organic approach” to networking.

Anything that’s forced feels creepy! In fact, one time there was a guy who was starting his own business doing similar work to my own. He called me to introduce himself to me and actually said, “I’m calling to network with you”. Eeww! That was an immediate turn-off and I chose not to engage in his approach.

The best approach to realistic networking is an organic one. It looks like this:

  • Be genuinely curious about other people. Ask them about their own career path and passions.
  • Listen to what they say! Don’t be the one dominating the conversation.
  • Share things with them things they’ll find helpful or interesting based on what they’ve told you about themselves.
  • Lower your expectations of what they can do for you and raise your standards of how you can benefit them.

Start now. And be realistic!

For more networking tips, get the on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.

Related Post:  7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts

7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts

Most people, especially introverts, find networking to be very awkward. Here are 7 tips to make networking a little easier and more comfortable.

#1. Start with who you know

Start with the people you already know and feel comfortable with. Invite them to go with you to events and ask them to introduce you to the people there they know. Be sure to take someone who’s extroverted so they can also introduce you to the new people they’ll easily meet there.

#2. Have your contacts give a “heads-up”

When friends give you the name of one of their contacts, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time you’ll be contacting him or her. This gives the person a “heads up” and it will be clear why you’re contacting him or her.

#3. Email before calling

If you’re going to make cold calls to industry people, start first by sending them an email or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

#4. Develop talking points

It’s good for you to know what you want to talk about before aimlessly engaging in conversation. Decide ahead of time which questions you want to ask and what points you want to make. Also, frame your conversation with small talk. Start and end your networking conversations with small talk, and have the middle part of it be about business. 

#5. Network during your peak time of energy

If you have more energy in the mornings, attend networking breakfasts. If evenings are your peak time of energy, go to events held after work hours. Know what works best for you. Be selective by only attending those events which work best for your energy level and what you hope to gain.

#6. Set goals and allow time to re-charge

If you know you’re usually tapped out after talking to only 3 or 4 people, then go to an event with the goal of meeting only 3 or 4 new people. Afterward, go home or to a quiet place to re-charge.

#7. Push through the discomfort

Acknowledge any discomfort you feel and push through it. While it may be more comfortable to network via email or LinkedIn, you eventually have to get out from behind the computer. If you still feel intimidated by the idea of attending a networking event with numerous people, start with one-on-one meetings and informational interviews.

For more easy networking tips for both introverts and extroverts, check out paNASH’s on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. Learn about informational interviewing, networking etiquette, and when/where to network. As a result, you’ll be better prepared and will feel more at-ease in future networking situations. And you’ll make stronger connections with those who have hiring power.

A Simple Way to Make Big Decisions

Are you facing a big decision, unsure which direction to take or which option to choose? It could be career-related, such as the choice between two job offers. Or it could be more personal, like the choice between staying in a relationship or ending it. If only there was a simple way to make these difficult decisions! Well, maybe there is.

Notice I said “simple,” not “easy.” I’ve personally found a simple way to make some of my hardest decisions. But, it requires deep reflection and discipline to utilize it. I’ve used this same method in working with my clients to help them better face their own difficult decisions. Here’s how it ‘s worked for me, and how it can work for you.

Reflection

First, I had to come up with my own personal mission statement. I’d done a professional mission statement for my business, so why not a personal one just for me? I had to spend time reflecting on my core values, philosophy, and goals. Then I had to reflect on how I wanted to carry out those hopes and beliefs. This took some time and required me to be completely honest with myself and with God.

My personal mission statement:  To boldly pursue my passions and purpose, and to teach, encourage, and inspire others to do the same, resulting in lives overflowing with joy, peace, and fulfillment.

Discipline

Second, I had to remember to use my mission statement as a filter for all my choices. If the choice didn’t support my mission statement, it had to go. I had to be disciplined enough to make the decision my mission statement revealed to be the right one. No matter how difficult it would be.

For example, at the time I wrote my mission statement in late 2015, my friendship with my guy-friend was turning romantic. The relationship was great at first. But, after nine months of dating, I noticed a pattern that had been developing for some time. This pattern wouldn’t make such a relationship sustainable if certain variables remained the same, which they did.

I wasn’t sure if I should end the relationship or give it another chance. After much prayer, I was reminded of my mission statement and why I’d written it. So, I pulled it out and started reading it. I immediately realized that the relationship didn’t support the life goals in my mission statement.

What I had to do.

Though I didn’t want to end the relationship, I had to in order to stay true and authentic to my God-given hopes. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because my heart didn’t feel like ending it. But my soul knew what was best for me in the long run. (This is why it’s dangerous to subscribe to the “just-follow-your-heart” advice of today’s culture.)

I had to be disciplined enough to push through my fickle emotions which were temporary, and focus on the decision that would make me happier and healthier down the road. Once I ended it, I received confirmation in so many forms (including red flags that weren’t previously present) and realized I had indeed made the right decision. Anytime I considered turning back, those red flags served as reminders as to why I had to stick to my decision.

What do you have to do?

Do you have a big decision in your life you soon have to make? Maybe it involves a move to a new state or a new country. Maybe it involves going back to school or ending a long-time friendship. Whatever decision you face, I encourage you to follow a similar process to see if it helps make things a little simpler. Not easier, just simpler. It may even make you stronger.

To learn how to write a mission statement that’s authentic to your true self, check out my on-demand program Personal Branding:  How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic. In this program I teach you how to determine your unique differentiators and how to write your own vision and mission statements.

Note: 45% of the sales from this on-demand program go to support Justice & Mercy Amazon. Click here for more details.

8 Simple Hacks to a More Passionate Life and Career

Life can often be mundane, causing you to feel stuck. Especially when you aren’t living and working in your purpose. So how can you become more passionate about your life and your work? How can you better enjoy both? By following these 8 simple life and career hacks:

1. Try again at a previously failed attempt.

Most people will suggest you try something new and I’m all for that. I’m a big believer in trying new things, whether it’s new food, a new hobby, or even something as simple as a new route to work.

But I also know it’s important to try something old. Especially something you once attempted and failed at before.

You may remember from my article 5 Ways to Discover New Passions, I shared how I failed at my first attempt at rock climbing and how something clicked after giving it a second chance. This gave me more confidence and a greater interest in the activity, resulting in physical improvement in my body.

What’s something you can try again? What would be the possible benefits of trying it again?

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work

2. Do one thing you can complete within 24-48 hours that will put you one step closer to achieving a long-term goal.

You can accomplish a large goal by taking a step-by-step approach. Incremental steps add up to big achievements. Simply doing one small thing each day will help you develop habits necessary to reaching your goal.

What’s one thing you can do today to get you closer to achieving your bigger goal? What’s one thing you can do tomorrow? Ask yourself these questions every day. Before you know it, you’ll have accomplished more than you thought you were capable of!

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them!

3. Understand how your strengths and skills benefit others.

Knowledge of what you’re good at is power, especially when trying to win a job interview or get promoted. But knowing how your skills solve other people’s problems helps you better understand your purpose, not just in work but also in life.

Think about your strengths and skills you possess both within and outside of your job. How do they benefit others?

For example, my top spiritual gift is encouragement. I use this strength in so many aspects of my life, including my work, my interactions with friends, and when learning alongside others. I’ve been fortunate to see how this gift helps people gain the courage to pursue their passions.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic!

4. Update your resume every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Because of my background as a career coach, I’ve helped thousands of people with their resumes. I always tell them the same thing:  keep your resume updated every six months.

Why? 1) Because you never know when someone will ask for a copy of it. 2) You never know when another career opportunity or promotion will come your way. 3) It’s easier to remember what you’ve accomplished in the past six months than in the past six years if you find yourself in another job search down the road.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Resumes That Get You the Interview

5. Ask 3 people who have your dream job how they got to where they are.

These conversations can open your mind up to ideas and opportunities you never before considered! Listen carefully to their stories while asking a lot of good questions. Learn not just from their successes but also from their failures.

You may find there wasn’t a straight line to their career path. There rarely is for most people. This can give you confidence to pursue a new career path despite lack of formal education or direct experience.

Take their encouragement and advice. Put it into action to see how far you can go in the direction of your personal and professional pursuits.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively

6. Make a list of questions you’d ask if you were interviewing the interviewer.

People often forget the job interview is a two-way street. You should always ask questions to help you make the right decision when faced with multiple offers.

Besides money, think about the things you’d need or want in your next job. They could include similar core values, a flexible schedule, a culture that promotes “family first,” healthy living, etc.

Formulate a few questions you’d need to ask to determine if your next opportunity will provide those things. Make sure to ask these questions in your next job interview, along with the other type of questions I outline in my blog post “A Proven Interview Hack.”

Here’s what one of my clients experienced when she did this:

“One of the companies I interviewed with I decided not to accept any offers from them based on their answers to my questions so as not to get myself into the same work situation I was in previously. It is SO empowering to know what is good for me and to be able to say no! I have the tools now to spot the red flags and this has been helpful on several interviews. I am so glad to have this confidence.”

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Steps to Acing the Interview

7. Start a collection of your best work.

Curate a collection of your best work both from your job and your outside projects. This can include personal things you’ve made (i.e. a book, a painting, etc.), and the projects your most proud of from your job.

Your body of work will help you see how your skills overlap. But most of all, it will reveal your own career path thus far and where it might be pointing to next.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers

8. List the ways you’ve impacted the bottom line in your job.

When you’re working on hack #4, always include your on-the-job accomplishments and results of your efforts. By focusing on results and not just your job duties, you’re able to easily see where you’ve had an impact, giving you a greater sense of purpose.

Also, it helps you confidently discuss your worth when it comes time to negotiate a new job offer, a promotion, or a pay raise.

Source:  paNASH’s on-demand program, Make More Money, Without Taking a Second Job

When you follow these life and career hacks, you’ll start to see ways to become unstuck. Soon you’ll be living a more passionate, vibrant, and productive life!

Lori Bumgarner is a passion and career specialist and owner of paNASH, a Nashville-based career coaching service. She helps people discover their passions, achieve their goals, and find purposeful work they love. She addresses each of the above hacks in depth in her new affordable on-demand coaching programs delivered online. To access these programs and view them at your own pace, go to:  www.yourpassionilife.com/ondemand.

How to Get Published, and Get Noticed!

Get Noticed by Potential Recruiters or Clients

Are you a job seeker wanting to get noticed by recruiters or potential employers? Or are you a small business owner looking for new clients or customers? A resume or a company web site are necessary elements of your marketing efforts, but you need more to stand out among your competition. You need to show just how knowledgeable you are about your industry. You need to get published!

How do you do this? There are a number of ways, including writing your own blog, guest blogging on others’ blogs, commenting on others’ blogs, etc. However, one of my favorite and most effective ways I’ve recently discovered is through Quora.

Get Published Through Quora

Quora is a site where people can ask any question about anything, and you can respond with your own knowledge and point of view. You get noticed when you provide quality answers to your industry’s questions.

For example, I started doing this only a couple of months ago. I focus on answering job search and career-related questions (my area of expertise). Typically, I choose questions with a larger audience (at least 500 followers). This allows more people to see my answers.

In just a few months with answers to only a handful of questions, I’ve generated:

  • Over 128,000 views (just one of my answers has nearly 65,000 views)
  • 950 upvotes (Quora’s version of “Likes”)
  • Over 225 shares
  • A dozen new subscribers to my newsletter
  • 3 potential clients
  • “Top Writer” status for the categories of Job Searches, Job Search Advice, Interviewing, and Job Interviews
  • A published article on Inc.com

I haven’t generated nearly as many results in a year of writing and promoting my own blog. I’ll always have my blog as one method of reaching my audience, but I know blogs take a little longer to grow organically because of the lack of a captive audience, unlike Quora.

Quora is organic. The people who are seeing your information are the ones who want that information. Also, it’s great because interest in the answers you posted months or even years ago can continue to grow in readership long after you’ve posted them.

Get Credibility

So what does this mean for you? If you’re a job seeker, you can showcase your knowledge of your industry and even your problem-solving skills. You can answer questions that show how you would solve (or have solved) common problems in your field. Employers are always looking for good problem-solvers and good communicators. You’re able to exhibit both of these top skills in your answers on Quora.

Include a link to your Quora profile in the contact info section of your resume. If Quora publishes one of your answers on another site (i.e. Inc.com, Huffington Post, Apple News, etc.), you can link to that as well. Include it on your resume and your LinkedIn profile, and talk about it in your interview!

If you’re a small business owner, you can share information your potential clients would be interested in. Your answers must include useful and relevant information. They can’t be just a sales pitch. Quora’s readers will “black-ball” you for that. You can include a one to two line pitch at the end of your answer, as long as your answer is helpful to the reader.

I’ve found the longer the answer, the more interest the readers show, resulting in more views, upvotes, and shares. If your answers get published, you can include the publication’s logo on your web site and other company collateral.

Sharing your knowledge on Quora is great because it:

  • Builds your credibility.
  • Establishes you as an expert in your field.
  • Creates opportunities for you to get published on mainstream sites.
  • And grows your audience (potential employers or clients).

I encourage you to give it a try (and a few weeks; BE PATIENT!). The more you write in response to questions, the better your writing will become. Click here to read my answers on Quora.