Category: Networking


5 Ways to Network Effectively in a Post-COVID Job Market

There’s no doubt the pandemic required a major change in how we network with people. Any and all methods of networking not already virtual were forced to move online.

But now, people are craving face-to-face connection again. Especially since many jobs are still remote, and will likely stay this way.

People are burned out on two-dimensional networking interactions via Zoom and a computer screen. They want to get back to some kind of normalcy, and network in a more meaningful and effective way.

This raises questions such as:

  • Which normal networking methods will still work post-COVID?
  • What methods developed during COVID will carry over post-COVID?
  • Which methods will become the “new normal”?

I’ll provide some answers to these questions in this post. Read on!

How to network effectively post-COVID

1. Continue to make it relational

Networking has always been and always should be relational in nature, not transactional. Unfortunately, a lot of people still don’t get this. They wonder why their networking attempts aren’t fruitful.

It’s because they’re not being realistic about networking. Click here to learn how to be more realistic.

2. Reconnect

To maintain your current relationships in your network, you want to reconnect with anyone you haven’t talked to since before the pandemic. Now is a good time to follow up with them.

Ask them how they’ve managed during this turbulent time. Ask if they’re continuing to work remotely and if they like it. Or ask if they’ve joined the “Great Resignation” or decided to retire early. Then, really listen to their responses.

3. Show empathy

It’s been a difficult year and a half for everyone, and even more so for those who’ve lost loved ones to COVID.

Don’t forget to show empathy and compassion (with appropriate boundaries) to your contacts when given the opportunity. Practice and demonstrate the emotional intelligence employers seek in job candidates.

4. Give options

Even if you now feel more comfortable meeting in person for networking conversations, don’t assume everyone else has the same comfort level.

When trying to schedule networking conversations such as informational interviews, always give your contacts an option. Even if they’re tired of Zoom, it may be more convenient for them to meet over the computer. Or, perhaps their eyes need a break from the computer screen, so offer the option of an old-fashioned phone call.

But when in agreement, try to meet in person, while being open to new or different meeting places (see the next section).

5. Find new places to meet

Physicians and psychologists suggest we break up our work-day to include both some exercise and some social contact. The pandemic motivated a lot of people to get outdoors, which is very healthy! And with more people still working from home by choice, the more likely they are to take a mid-day walk in their neighborhood or at their local park on their work breaks.

To fulfill the need for social contact, offer to meet people at their favorite trail or nearby dog park to join them for some fresh air. Doing so helps them better manage their time since they can walk their dog, get exercise, and meet with you, all at the same time. Helping them free up their time makes it more likely they’ll say yes to your invitation.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget your pants!

Now that you’re making your way out from behind your webcam, you have to remember to change out of your pajama bottoms and into real pants!

In all seriousness though, you should plan to put forth a little more effort in looking presentable than you were probably used to during the pandemic. Even if you’re planning to meet for a walk or a run, don’t show up looking sloppy.

More post-COVID job search tips

COVID has changed the way job searches are conducted in a lot of ways. I’ve added new handouts to the on-demand video tutorials, which include specific tips on how to succeed in a post-COVID job search. This includes:

  • Things you need to add to your resume, and things to remove from it.
  • New kinds of interview questions you need to be prepared to answer.
  • And new questions you should be asking the company in your interviews.

These programs also include the never-changing tried-and-true job search advice, along with numerous “out-of-the-box” job search tips designed to help you stand out above the competition.

Related resources

Networking Don’t: Why You Should Never Use Empty Flattery

While networking can be tricky, it should never involve trickery, which could cause your networking efforts to blow up in your face. There are several networking don’ts to avoid, which I’ve previously written about. One don’t I’d like to focus on today is empty flattery.

Empty flattery, also known as “buttering up” people, is never a good networking strategy for two reasons. One, most discerning people recognize it immediately and are turned off by it. And two, networking is all about taking the time to build genuine relationships, not being phony to get a list of someone’s contacts.

Story of a networking don’t

I remember someone who was trying to secure my business for his media promotion services. I had only met him once before, and therefore didn’t know much about him.

He told me he saw me as a thought leader in my industry. I couldn’t help but wonder why he’d think this. He’d never once “liked” or commented on any social media or blog post I’d ever made. When his actions didn’t match up with his words, I privately questioned his sincerity.

Then, he asked me to introduce him to one of my contacts, wanting an immediate connection with someone I’ve spent ten years building a business relationship with. I had to set a healthy boundary by letting him know, since my contact greatly values doing work with people he already has an established relationship with, I was hesitant to introduce to him someone I barely know yet. (A lesson I’d already learned in my career, and one everyone will learn in their career at some point.)

This boundary was an opportunity for the inquiring party to put in more time and effort to build a more meaningful networking relationship with me, which would’ve likely led to an eventual introduction to my other colleague. However, it’s been almost a year and I haven’t heard from him since, deepening my questioning of his original flattering words.

Networking do’s and don’ts

To avoid a networking faux pas like the one above, here are some networking do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

When first trying to connect with a potential contact, don’t use empty flattery to manipulate the situation.

A sincere compliment is okay, but even then I suggest you first put some action behind it. For example, if you really like someone’s work, share it first with others you think could benefit from it, or help promote it to your own social media following.

Imagine to yourself, once you finally have the opportunity to compliment this person on their work, they ask you, “How much do you like it?” They won’t likely ask this question, but if they did, could you answer it?

Also, put less focus on compliments and more focus on being genuinely curious about the other person’s work. Ask appropriate questions about what they enjoy most about their work, what trends they’re noticing in their field, etc.

Then, listen to their responses for things you may have in common with them, especially regarding common values and ethics. This is a much better way to build rapport with someone.

Finally, don’t forget to set appropriate expectations. Understand it’s going to take time to build trust with someone.

No one is immediately going to trust a stranger with their network. Instead, they’re going to protect their contacts so as not to burn any bridges with them. You should do the same for your own contacts, and should hope they’d do the same for you.

More resources

For more networking do’s and don’ts, check out these resources:

We All Have Something Valuable to Teach and Share With the World

I’m so fortunate to be blessed with the clients I have. Not only do I get to teach them about the job search and pursuing their passions, they also teach me so much!

For example, I recently was teaching a client how to network and to negotiate salary. We somehow got on the topic of negotiating with car salesmen. She was telling me how much more confident she is at negotiating the price of a new car than negotiating a salary. This is due to her personal experience and lessons learned from buying her own cars over the course of her adulthood. She said she’s gotten really good at it.

I told her I was in the market for a new car, but dreaded the thought of negotiating a deal. She kindly offered to put together a list of tips for me.

I put her tips to practice and was able to get the deal I wanted on my terms, without getting suckered into paying any unnecessary fees. Her tips made me feel so confident and empowered.

When I told her how it went, she was beaming from ear-to-ear. It made her feel the way I feel when I see my clients grow in their confidence. It’s my favorite thing when teaching clients how to market their skill set and negotiate a fair salary. The confidence is a by-product of the coaching program I provide, but I find it to be the most rewarding part of what I do.

Networking is about giving, not taking

When I tell my clients networking is about giving instead of taking, they often feel like they have nothing to give to someone they want to connect with, especially if they’re in a job search to change careers. This is usually because they’re limiting their thinking to just their past professional experience and work skills.

But we all have life experiences and life lessons outside of our work to share and teach others. My client’s experience of buying almost a dozen cars over her adult life taught her valuable lessons she’s able to pass on to others. It’s a great example of how we all have something to offer in networking relationships.

A simple conversation, where you show genuine interest in what others are currently experiencing, can uncover numerous opportunities to be of help. This requires listening more than talking. It means listening for the other person’s need, instead of trying to impress them.

What can you teach?

Now, every time I get in my new car, I think of my client. I think of not just how much money her advice helped me save, but also how she gave me the gift of confidence. This has lasting power, and I will always remember her for it.

The goal of genuine networking is to be helpful, which in turn makes you memorable. The by-products are mutually beneficial relationships lasting over time, increased confidence for both parties, and even some job opportunities and career growth along the way.

You can teach others and be of help to anyone, regardless of how high up they are on the org chart, or how much further along they are in their career than you.

So start asking yourself,

“What’s something I’m personally good at I can teach and share with others to benefit them?”

And when these ways of helping come up naturally in conversation, don’t hesitate to share your advice. You will be remembered for it!

Quote: “The basic idea is that those who help best are the ones who both need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both.” Edward T. Welch

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Limiting the Jobs You Apply to Is Healthy For Your Job Search

When looking for a job, it can be tempting to apply for a lot of open positions. After all, shouldn’t you cast your net wide, especially if you’re in a desperate situation? The answer is no, not typically. So what should you do instead? I suggest a better use of your time is to curate and apply only to jobs that make the most sense.

I’ll speak about how to determine which ones make the most sense in a moment. But first, I want to talk about why curation is both an important and necessary step in your job search.

Why you should curate job postings

There are so many jobs listed in various online job boards. You could spend an unhealthy amount of time with the online application process. This is not always time well spent. Especially given how 80% of the workforce found their jobs through networking, not applying to jobs.

This is why I tell my clients they should spend only 20% of their job search answering job ads, and 80% networking. But most job seekers have this reversed.

As a result, you should limit your job applications to a manageable amount, so your time is freed up for more networking efforts.

Also, being selective in the jobs you apply to shows focus. I’ve previously written how applying for a lot of different jobs, especially different roles within the same company, can signal to employers a lack of focus. They often view this as a huge red flag.

How many jobs should you apply to?

Allow me to use some similar language from Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He talks about the importance of curating the media we watch as one way to foster healthy habits. While he’s referring to media consumption, I’m going to refer to job applications.

So then, how many jobs should you apply to? It’s up to you to decide what your limit will be. “The point,” Earley says, “is to determine some kind of limit that forces curation.”

You can’t apply to every job listed in your field, but you should apply to some, perhaps even many. However, you also must curate them, instead of allowing the online job boards that care nothing about your career to curate them for you.

Earley says, “The good life doesn’t come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits.” You can substitute the word “career” for the word “life” in this quote, and it would still ring true.

Unlimited choices lead to “decision fatigue.” But limits, however, provide freedom. In the case of a job search, this could be the freedom to meet new people and grow your network, or discover opportunities not yet advertised.

By limiting and curating certain job ads, you improve your ability to make good career decisions.

What kind of jobs should you apply to?

Earley says, “Curation implies a sense of the good. An art gallery has limited space on the wall, so its curator creates shows to make the best use of that space according to a vision for good art.”

I recommend you develop a vision for good opportunities. The jobs it makes most sense to apply to are the ones meeting at least some of the following criteria:

1. Jobs matching at least 65 to 75% of your “must-have” requirements for a job. This will help you stay realistic without settling.

2. Ones where your skills match at least 65 to 75% of the qualifications. Remember from my previous post, “How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For,” job ads are written like wish lists. It’s unlikely there’s a candidate who checks every single box.

Where you might lack a particular skill, you make up for it with the ability to learn quickly, or with other assets such as emotional intelligence.

3. Jobs listed on LinkedIn or a company’s web site, instead of those listed on a big job board where the market is saturated and the postings are questionable.

4. Those your networking contacts have referred you to. This is the most effective way to apply for jobs. Therefore, you should spend much of your time building relationships with your contacts.

Conclusion

You may currently be in a situation where you feel like you have to find anything, and fast. But keep this in mind: by not being selective enough to curate a good list of job opportunities, you might find yourself right back in the same situation a year from now. This can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Is this really what you want?

It’s time to take a healthier approach so you can be more successful in your job search, and ultimately, your career.

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Do You Want to Take the Work Out of Networking? Here’s How

Networking can feel like, well, let’s just say it, work. Just the thought of it can trigger a sense of dread for a lot of people. This is especially true for introverts and job seekers currently unemployed. Because networking can often feel awkward and fake, it therefore feels like work.

But there are some ways to take the “work” out of networking so it doesn’t feel so laborious. Keep reading to find out how.

Taking the “work” out of networking

1. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking about networking as work, start thinking about it instead as “netweaving.” I heard of this term when reading an article by producer and photographer Michael Kushner.

Kushner explains:

“There is a fine line between networking and netweaving. Are you making these connections to advance yourself, or are you creating an environment where everyone can succeed? What establishes the difference is your intention.”

Networking should never be about what you can get from someone. Instead, your intention and approach should always be about making it a win-win for each party. (See my post, “How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!“)

In addition, your intentions should be genuine. I’ve personally experienced people approaching me with a so-called win-win situation. But in looking closer, they weren’t being genuine.

For example, in one instance, it was obvious the other party was using empty flattery. In another, a contact was using one of her own clients as bait, to lure me into something only benefiting her other client and herself. Therefore, I declined each of these networking proposals.

In the second example, I politely and tactfully called her out on it, because I’d known her long enough to be able to do so. When I did, she admitted it, and showed appreciation for my forthrightness and said she found it refreshing. We were able to be honest and gracious with each other, which strengthened both our reputations within our network.

Not only do I encourage you to be genuine and intentional in your own “netweaving” efforts, but also to be discerning of those who aren’t. You don’t have to say yes to every meeting or proposal. If you do, this is when networking becomes work. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Use your time wisely

Take an inventory of all the different types of networking you’ve done in the past. This can include:

  • attending large networking events
  • conducting one-on-one meetings or informational interviews
  • connecting through LinkedIn
  • attending conferences or industry events
  • joining professional associations
  • volunteering
  • serving on committees
  • etc.

Ask yourself:

  • “Which ones am I more skillful at doing?”
  • “Which ones do I enjoy the most?”
  • And, “Which ones have had the most success?” (with success being defined as all parties benefiting from the connection).

Spend the majority of your efforts on those that meet the above criteria, while occasionally incorporating a couple of the others so you don’t let yourself get too comfortable. As a result, you’ll see more genuine success, and feel less overworked.

More resources: