Realistic #Networking Advice

By Erica Tew, CPRW

What is networking?

It is introducing yourself to people, forming relationships, and maintaining these relationships through effective communication.

Communication is about making decisions. You decide who you want to approach and how you want to do so.  Factors that can influence these decisions depend on what you know about the other party, their preferred method of communication, and the level of your relationship with that person.

When job seekers ignore these factors and abruptly ask strangers for jobs, or to find jobs for them, they are usually frustrated with the lack of success. This is because the strategy is only focused for the benefit of one person, the job seeker.

Why is networking so difficult?

I think it is because we place extra pressure on ourselves when job seeking. Networking becomes another burdensome task, like writing your resume or blocking away three hours of your day to fill out an online job application. Yet we all know networking does not have to be one of those things. If the terminology is causing you stress, drop it and focus on meeting other real people.

To put networking in perspective, think of your circle: your friends, family, and colleagues. Who, within these circles, actively networks? Your 8 year old niece who leverages social prowess and gets invited to Susan’s sleepover party. Your grandmother who raises funds for her church by hosting events and bake sales, managing to get donations from even the tightest of purses. Fred, the guy you hike with on Saturdays, who just landed a new client to get promoted. Your friend from high school who dropped out of college and now runs a successful online business. Networking is actively done by many parties who may never directly label their actions as “networking.”

How do you network?

Reach out to people you already know- family, friends, colleagues, etc. Provide some basics. When people say, “I need a job, any job,” the sentiment is understandable, but it makes the search so broad and open ended it feels insurmountable. Focusing on a specific job will not only help your own search, but it will help narrow down the focus for your friends who may scout around for you.

Explain what types of skills you have and try not to overuse the word “job.” Although you are looking for work, be open to advice and introductions. This is the development of your career for the long term, not only as a means for your next position. Effective networking continues as you regain employment.

Typically, people are more receptive when you ask for their opinion (as long as you ask politely and make sure they have the time to do so). To illustrate this, compare the two statements below:

  1. “Hi, I’m looking for a job. Can you alert me when there are openings at your company?”
  2. “Hi Mark, Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if I could get a few minutes of your time. I’m currently looking for a position in customer service, and was wondering if you had any advice about starting in the field. …”

Which message would you prefer? Although the first would be easy for a friend, it may be a lot of extra work for a stranger. The second is much more personalized and starts with a conversation, making this option more inviting. When you reach out to contacts, especially those you may not know very well yet, try to personalize the message and not ask too much too soon.

Long-Term Success

As you network, focus on creating lasting relationships. Make your contact attempts without holding high expectations. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t respond. Be open to any advice or feedback from your network. Learning one new thing can have the potential to dramatically improve your job search.

Additionally, actively listening is key to a successful relationship and develops more personalized bonds between people. When meeting new people, listen more than you share. This information will gauge your perceptions about how the contact prefers to communicate and if there is a possibility of a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The strategies in networking assist in a job search because the more people that know you well and trust you, the faster you will get responses back regarding feedback, advice, referrals, or job openings. Networking is not about what others can do for you, but about the quality of the relationships you develop.

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Standing Tall

or How I learned to stop slouching and power pose my way into self-confidence

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 superman

I want you, for a moment, to think of the most powerful, brave and courageous superhero you know. Close your eyes for a moment and envision the character. Pay attention to their stance, their posture, their pose. Perhaps they have their hands on their hips, standing up straight, chin held high. Maybe they are flexing their muscles. How much of their image of strength and heroism is portrayed by their body language? What does their body language say about them?  Body language is one of the most integral parts of how we as humans communicate to one another. How we sit, stand, look and gesture can say so much more than words can and when you are “ing-ing” (job searchING, interviewING, networkING), your body language can convey messages to potential employers and colleagues, such as your level of confidence…or lack there of.  But did you also realize that your body language can also convey messages to your own brain? Researchers have been studying the various ways our body language affects the biological processes in the body and brain and evidence has been suggesting that “power posing” actually has some real effect on the way the brain responds to stressful situations, including things like interviewing. According to Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap, researchers who conducted a study on power posing concluded that:

“…results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications. (Carney, Cuddy, Yap 2010)”

So, what exactly is “Power Posing” you might be asking yourself. Power posing is exactly what it sounds like…standing or sitting in a powerful pose. Think Superman or Wonder Woman.  Assuming a powerful stance can, according to the study, increase feelings of power and confidence by preparing your brain and physiological systems to get ready for a stressful situation.  This can be wildly helpful for someone who is a nervous or not-so confident interviewee. By triggering the brain to be prepared for a stressful situation and simulating feelings of power and confidence, the nervous interviewee can begin to overcome feelings of apprehension, nervousness and lack of confidence, all of which could be problematic during the interview process.

I’ve actually used power posing myself and have found that it really shifted the way I felt both physically and mentally. Some time ago, I had an interview for a promotional opportunity for a position that I had really wanted (I’ll save you the suspense…I didn’t get the position) so I was incredibly nervous. and in fact, it was the first time in years that I was nervous for an interview. After all, I taught other people how to interview! But nevertheless, I was a nervous wreck. I had been hearing a lot about this power posing theory so I decided that I had nothing to lose but my nerves by trying it out so I went into the bathroom before my interview and closed the stall door behind me and power posed for a good 3 minutes. I held these poses and concentrated on wanting to exude the confidence these poses represented in my interview. I focused on feeling powerful and brave. Soon my nerves were replaced with confidence and I was able to have a fantastic interview. So while I didn’t get the job I learned something valuable that day…I learned how to overcome my nerves with a simple (and fun) technique.

I’ve recommended power posing to my clients in the past and many have used the technique to prepare for interviews or job fairs and have said that they have seen a change in the way they approach situations that have made them nervous in the past. Next time you are faced with a situation that sends your nerves into overdrive, try power posing! Strike a powerful pose for a few minutes when you need that extra boost or do it every day to grow those feelings of confidence and power! Have you tried power posing? If so, let us know how it worked for you!

For some more information on Power Posing:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/10/business/bolt-success-power-posing/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323608504579022942032641408.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html (Awesome TED talks about power posing with Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers from the study mentioned)