A new year often means new goals. You might be looking for a new job, or have sales goals that you want to accomplish for yourself. A lot of this requires networking with people. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the saying, “it’s all about who you know!”
The art of networking can be a very intimidating to some people. Breaking out of your comfort zone, and talking to strangers in an unfamiliar place can be scary for the less outgoing people. I think I’m a pretty outgoing person and I have to be, seeing as my full-time job requires me to interact with the local community everyday. But it has taken some practice and forcing myself to break out of my comfort zone.
When looking to gain something through networking – i.e. an interview, a sale, a marketing plug, – the question on whether or not you should depend on your friends can be tough to determine. Of course networking is all about who you know but you should be careful to not abuse your relationships with people close to you.
Below are MY OWN guidelines when networking with people close to me:
- Don’t put pressure on your friend – One of the worst things I think you can do to ruin a friendship is to put pressure on your friend when trying to get something from them. They may have their reasons for not wanting to do what you ask them for and it may take them some time to decided whether or not they are going to help you. Give them time and if they really are a good friend they will let you know either way if they can help you or not.
- Ask for help once, and no more than twice – Going along with the idea of not putting pressure on someone is also the number of times you ask for your friends help. I always like to ask once and then if nothing is done after waiting a few days, I will ask one more time. I would say something like, “Hey, I know I mentioned something to you last week about that job I applied for at your friends company, I was wondering if you had a chance to let her know I applied?” If they say they haven’t had the chance yet let them know that you understand how busy they are and if it feels appropriate, ask them if you could reach out to them yourself.
- Don’t assume you are their top priority – I have had a lot of friends tell me that they are going to reach out to someone for me to try to connect. I have learned that, it usually is not the next day. It may take days, weeks or even months. Your friends have their own lives to attend to and you are most likely not their top priority. This may sound harsh but it is just a reality. I’m sure if you think of situations like this in reverse, you may realize your friends needs were not a top priority for you at one time. It doesn’t mean they are not a good friend. It just means you are not their top priority 24-hours a day.
- Make sure you thank them and show how grateful you are if your friend does help with a connection – If in fact your friend connects you to someone you want to speak with make sure you let your friend know how much you appreciate their effort. Send them a thank you card or buy them a glass of wine the next time you guys are out. Let them know you understand that this was something they did not have to do and that it means a lot to you.
- Don’t assume you are automatically going to get what you want just because a connection was made – Just because your friend helped you with the connection doesn’t mean you are automatically going to get what you are looking for. Once you are connected, the rest is up to you. If you do not get what you were searching for, it is still important to thank your friend who helped you get connected. Also, if the connection does not work out definitely DO NOT bash or talk bad about the person to your friend. This may prevent your friend from helping you out again in the future.
Again, I would like to remind everyone that these are MY OWN guidelines and it goes with my personality. People may disagree or have different methods of networking and I would LOVE to hear from you! Comment below!