10 Things You Can Do to Network Like a Leader
If you are an average performer, you have been conditioned to act fearfully when the subject of networking comes up. “My manager will find out,” translates into “I will get into trouble,” in too many peoples’ minds. It is as though their manager or boss is some omnipotent or omniscient being with the ability to know everything about your behavior and thoughts and find out you were considering a job change.
This might have been true in The Stone Ages when people did not own mobile phones and you might have received a call on your office line. A particular employer I worked for used to listen in randomly to employee calls to gain an advantage with his staff and confront people. He ruled by fear and staff came and went.
Things are different but attitudes are slow to adapt to the new facts. Most staff is still afraid to network even though the likelihood of being exposed is almost non-existent (if you use your office email address, you can be exposed by some systems).
But look at what your firm and its management do. How do they network? How do they find opportunities? What do the big girls and the big boys do that you don’t?
- They make themselves visible. They write. They speak at conferences. They become visible leaders in their field. “I’m not that significant.” You will remain insignificant if you think that way. Have you ever tried being active in groups there or on Facebook that relate to your expertise? You are missing a big opportunity to grow relationships with people and become visible.
- They talk to people outside of the firm. While you talk to people in your company, they talk to people everywhere. They make sure everyone knows of their successes. You know, the successes they achieved on your back.
- They maintain relationships with former bosses. They may have changed jobs and left but your manager keeps in contact with his former boss. S/he offers and/or accepts advice and ideas freely. Only losers don’t.
- They are cordial when search firms call them. Most of you believe that when a recruiter calls, it is your constitutional right to be abusive to the recruiter. Yes, that person might be junior, inexperienced and may a bunch of dumb illogical things but you used to do the same thing, too When your manager gets a call, they listen carefully and investigate what they are being told in order to make an intelligent decision. You, on the other hand, go into attack mode and decide to rationalize your behavior based upon some affront from years ago that someone else did. Childish behavior results in missed opportunities. Your boss doesn’t make that mistake.
- They understand their job search network and their career network can dividends for the rest of their career. Executives I coach all start their search by wielding their professional Rolodex (I know, no one uses a rolodex) and starting their outreach. You run to job boards and apply for jobs.
- They get help. The big boys and big girls hire people to coach them during their search and in their careers. They understand they don’t know everything and need help. You prefer not to invest in yourself, thinking you can get the answers online.
- They network up, not just at their level. They network with people who run businesses or major functions of businesses. They make sure there are people who know them and respect them. They maintain connection with them . . . but they don’t waste their “asks.” As someone I coach said, I can only ask so many times before they think of me as selfish. By the way, they all know that rule.
- They walk their walk. They don’t just talk their talk. Their track record backs up their words. They just don’t talk a bunch of stuff and speak from their wounded pride. Obviously, there are many women and men who are all hat and no cattle. Most aren’t. They are leaders and people want to follow them.
- Your boss/manager learn to inspire people and not just manage them. People want to hire leaders and will pay more for that. If you are only going to manage, well, you can expect to be paid as a manager. This is not a talent that most people are born with. They cultivate it and succeed because of it.
- They understand “the big lesson.” What’s that lesson? Winners find the way to win and losers find the way to lose. They may not win all of the time but they are much better than a .500 performer and leader. They learned from their mistakes, emphasize their strengths and try to improve upon flaws. That progress helps them become seen as champions and makes them desirable to connect with.
THE BONUS TIP:
People want to network with winners.
Marketers never put failures in front of us except to tug at our emotions. They put successful people, authorities, celebrities, well-recognized aspirational symbols. They work to become those people.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is an executive job search and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.
JobSearchCoachingHQ.com changes that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.