So here we are at the end run of the holiday season, with our New Year’s resolutions and our best intentions. We have some trepidations being that it’s 2013 and all, and so we welcome the year a little more warmly hoping to overcome any negative vibes that seem to abound around us.
As we prepare ourselves for the realities of the New Year, many of us are in job search mode, some due to corporate layoffs, and others due to the fact that there are more opportunities available. And there is plenty of good career and job search advice out there. Since we dwell more than a little on personal branding topics here, it’s worth our time to talk a little about that brand building tool: LinkedIn. I am a fervent LinkedIn member. I find it extremely useful to connect with people I haven’t seen in some time, or to make new connections. There are so many things you can do: join groups with similar interests, or even start your own group. You can read about current events and developments and indicate your agreement or disagreement with a host of topics. You can answer questions and be perceived as an expert, you can pose questions and poll colleagues about issues that concern you.
The idea about networking is that you are sharing your expertise, knowledge, contacts with others, and they are reciprocating. We all know this is not always the case. So a recent article entitled “Why a request to connect gets ignored on LinkedIn” is a great refresher on the basics of networking. J.T. O’Donnell quotes some of the requests she’s gotten including one from someone she didn’t know asking for career support pro bono after the individual spent a lot of money on career services that did not yield any results. It’s hard to believe that someone would think that is a compelling reason to help a person you don’t know personally who does not even consider reciprocating with any services or contacts. It’s absurd, and yet they clearly don’t understand why they can’t get an interview, much less a job.
That approach is all taking. It is not what the core of networking is: friendly interaction for mutual benefit. The person you approach has to see what might be in it for them. If you do not think of what that could be for the other person, you will never master the art of networking. How many times have I received a request to connect from someone I don’t know, with whom I have nothing in common, and who has not even taken a couple of minutes to explain why they would like to connect with me. I’m not expecting a long letter; I just want to make some sense of the request. Another interesting technique is called ‘cluster networking’ where you connect with different groups of colleagues and contacts in a way that will feel more natural. After all, who doesn’t want to connect with former colleagues, it’s great to catch up and sometimes reform the relationship in the present time.
Make sure your networking brand is a giving brand, a reciprocal brand. Share your expertise and you will be surprised at the results. It’s only fair and it gives you a more meaningful personal brand.