A new networking bonanza has started. Last week I attended the first in a long run of graduation parties. The adult daughter of a friend was there, a young woman I have known since she was 2 years old. In chatting with her I learned that she was moving home to start a second master’s degree so she could change careers.
It seems there was a time that people did this because they were unhappy with their job or career, now I am running into people going back to school because they can’t find work in a career they love.
Well, not if I can help it. Hearing her story, my networking light switched on and I thought of four people I knew — not well, but well enough to contact on behalf of someone else. Every single person I emailed responded, and my friend has one interview set up already.
What really made me think was how easy it was to email, pick up the phone and send a Facebook message for someone else. It can be so hard to do all those things to ask for work or help for yourself. So this brings me to three conclusions:
- It’s not as hard as we think. Most people won’t kill you for calling or blacklist you for one email inquiry. In fact, when I am relaxed and have something specific to say, I have had some great conversations from cold and warm calls.
- Or maybe it is that hard. If reaching out by phone or email still feels like torture, do it on behalf of someone else. Of the people I called one was a past client from ages ago, one was a fellow board member I hadn’t spoken to in years, and one was a person I had met once at a networking function but am on her mailing list. The last was the sister of a high school friend. None were people I speak to regularly or feel like I know well, but contacting even loose or old connections for someone else felt like second nature.
- You can make it a little easier. I am always happy to call someone I know to help them out, but I rarely think to ask someone to do it on my behalf. It is hard to ask favors, but worth it. Most people you know would be happy to help – they just don’t really understand what you do or what you need. A party is a great place to chat about what you are looking for. I had forgotten the field my friend was in and was surprised I had four contacts who were great prospects for her.
By the way, in reaching out for my friend, I ended up scheduling a meeting with the networking contact. While that wasn’t my intent, what I realize I did was rekindle four stagnant relationships. So, one party down, at least four more on the calendar. Great opportunities to reconnect with old friends, meet new people, be honest about where I need help and grateful for the generosity of others.