My friend Melissa gave birth to a baby girl last week. During her pregnancy she developed gestational diabetes. To control her blood sugar she started taking lengthy walks, which I sometimes joined along. The time spent walking gave us a chance to deepen our friendship. Being we lived a five minute drive from each other I volunteered to care for her other children when the time came. I confess my motives were somewhat selfish as she and her husband had three of the most adorable children I know.
Shortly after she gave birth I learned the baby’s middle name was the same as my first name. Given I am not a parent I was flabbergasted. When we got a chance to discuss the baby’s name I learned her husband’s late sister and I shared the same name. However, given my involvement they had decided when the time came they would also tell her how I cared for her brother and sisters while she was being born.
There are valuable lessons to be learned about networking from this blessed, memorable event. If you are currently or have been in a job search, you likely have been told that networking is the best way to get hired. Approximately 80% of all people are hired due to a personal recommendation. Despite the high success rate networking can be frustrating, frightening and confusing.
Much like effective networkers, Melissa and I share a personal connection. This connection is what makes us willing to help one another. A week before she gave birth she made time to help me set up a budget to accommodate my new life as a single woman. Your professional network can help you achieve your goals when you treat your contacts like valued friends. To build and grow your network, select and for the next 90 days, implement three tips from the list that follows:
- Determine what traits, values, and interests you share with people in your network. It’s best when these are both personal and professional. Music, sports, philanthropy are great denominators.
- Have heroes, role models, mentors – these are people who are where you want to be. Let them know how they have inspired you when you ask for advice and guidance.
- As simple as it may sound, let people like you. People like to do business or help those they like. Smile, tell a joke or funny story, and make good eye contact.
- Develop a genuine interest in other people’s lives. Listen for and seize opportunities to help other’s achieve their goals
- Stay on the radar screen, both socialmedia and technology offer various ways to keep your name popping up. If someone doesn’t reply to your email or text try contacting them using Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
- Ask your contacts the best way and times to contact them. Some will prefer email, while others will prefer LinkedIn.
- Keep it friendly, keep it social, but keep it professional. If you haven’t spoken in awhile, schedule a lunch meeting or phone call to catch up with each other. This will go further then sending an email about their company’s need for a Senior Vice President.