The Power of Networking – A Story too cool to miss!
Networking is a powerful thing. I am not referring to what many people think of when speaking of networking: meeting and talking with people at an association or other professional networking event or perhaps at a social gathering. When I speak of networking, I’m talking about taking a genuine interest in others and in doing so, gathering information and building meaningful relationships.
I have the privilege of being involved in a networking group whose purpose is to help members increase their business by developing relationships with other business professionals and referring opportunities for new business to one another. As a career coach, no story better illustrates the power of networking than this one: (The names and occupations of the people involved have been changed.)
Michael is a member of our networking group. He is a leader, an excellent communicator and very generous in helping other members. He was exploring new opportunities because he was not happy in his current position: selling IT solutions to area companies. Laura was also in the group. She heads up sales and marketing for an advertising and public relations firm. She was looking for a sales person. Remember, Michael is selling IT solutions and yet within a few weeks of telling us about the open position, Laura happily announced to the group that she has hired Michael. Dare I say, had Laura not known Michael and he had sent his resume in response to the job posting, he would not have been considered. It was because of the relationship he had developed with Laura that he was hired. When people know, like and respect each other, things change, and exceptions are made.
Our story doesn’t end here. Michael’s previous job was then open, and we learned that a former member of our group, Jacob, who had sold insurance but was currently not working, was hired for Michael’s job; referred to the hiring manager of course by Michael. This too happened because of the relationship. Jacob would not have been invited for an interview because the job posting required previous relevant experience which Jacob did not have. How cool is this? I often tell people they can land a job for which they are not qualified. I say that facetiously, but it is true.
Years back, I was hired for a short-term contract for a construction company looking for an interim inside sales manager. In the job description, it said, “must have experience selling in a manufacturing environment… and writing compensation plans.” I had neither. I was referred to the president of the company by someone who knew him well. I got the job! I found out later that one of the board members asked the president why he had hired me. This board member said he would not have even invited me to interview because I wasn’t qualified. I didn’t have the experience they said they required; and yet, it turned out I was qualified after finding out what the president really wanted to accomplish. It was a win for both of us!
More that 70 percent of all job opportunities come about as a direct result of a personal introduction or referral. When managing your career, don’t underestimate the power of networking!