245: Networking ABCs - What to Do if You Don't Know What to Do


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Today, we’re talking about the basics of networking. This is especially for those of you who a) avoid networking like a root canal, b) describe your networking skills as “terrible;” and c) those of you who think networking is not necessary to land your dream job or advance your career.

Here’s a quote I used on a previous podcast: “The opposite of networking is NOT working.”

Keep in mind that your network doesn’t just consist of people you know…it consists of people who know you.

Think about it…you may “know” Tom Cruise or Joe Biden…but do they know you? If they don’t, then they aren’t in your network.

Through this podcast, I am networked to hundreds of people I’ve never met, but they are in my network. They reach out to me when they need the services and expertise I provide.

They aren’t yet in my network until I meet them and get to know them.

Here are some of the reasons networking is so important throughout your career:

Internal networking:

1. To advance within your current organization

2. To get tapped for high-profile projects within your current organization

3. To receive recognition for the work you are doing

4. To become well known for your brand throughout your organization

External networking:

1. To find out about, and get promoted for, job opportunities

2. To collaborate and partner with people in your community, your profession, or your industry on mutually beneficial projects/opportunities

3. To be selected for leadership roles within your community, your profession, or your industry

4. To help others! Networking should never be a one-way street…all take and no give.

Now let’s talk about the ABC’s of networking. Remember, this is a primer…having said that, anyone would benefit from this refresher. Here we go, taking a reporter’s Who, What, When, Where, and Why approach:


I get a lot of questions about who people should be networking with, and that question tells me they don’t have a networking strategy.

You develop a networking strategy by knowing where you want to work. You identify 10-12 companies that are a perfect match for your skills, the culture you work best in, your preferred work environment and geographic location, etc.

Once you have identified your dream employers, work backwards using LinkedIn to figure out who you know relative to that employer.

-Do you know someone who works there, or has worked there recently?

-Do you know someone who knows the person who can make the decision to hire you?

-If you can’t think of anyone for the previous prompts, who do you know who is well connected and might be able to point you in the right direction?

You have to know how to use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function to pull this off, so if you aren’t familiar with this functionality – listen to last week’s episode #244 for a step-by-step process.

Note: This is the more strategic approach to networking, but you can also start with what I call “low-hanging fruit,” the people you know well who you feel the most comfortable starting with. This gives you an opportunity to work the kinks out of your networking approach…and who knows where it might lead.


We’re talking about networking here – meaning, as I define it, an exchange among equals.

I make a clear distinction between networking and informational interviewing, which is you asking a series of questions of someone about their job, their employer, their career trajectory, etc. It is much more one-sided than networking.


So many people mistakenly think networking is just for when you are looking for a job, and nothing is further from the truth. When done correctly, networking should be a career-long process.

If you aren’t looking for a job, build a modest amount of time into your regular schedule for networking activities. For example:

-15 minutes, 2X/week on LinkedIn to connect with people, comment on posts, and cultivate relationships with your connections

-Attend 1 networking event every week, either 1:1 or a group event.

-Connect on LinkedIn with everyone you meet at the networking events or otherwise.

If you are looking for a job, here’s the formula I use for how to parse out your job search time:

-If you are entry-level: at least 25% of your job search time should be spent on networking-based activities

-If you are beyond entry level or at mid-career: at least 50% of your job search time should be spent on networking-based activities

-If you are at a more senior level: at least 75% of your job search time should be spent on networking-based activities

-If you are at the executive level: 100% of your job search time should be spent on networking-based activities

Activities for job seekers might include:

-1 hour, 5 days a week on LinkedIn – connecting, cultivating relationships, commenting on posts

-2-3 networking events every week, with a combination of 1:1 and group events

-Connecting on LinkedIn with everyone you meet at the networking events or otherwise.


I talked a lot about this in episode #179 of the podcast; I encourage you to listen to that episode for a more in-depth discussion of where to network.

The suggestions I made in that episode include:


-Service clubs (i.e. Rotary, Kiwanis)

-Chamber of Commerce

-Facebook/community events

-Your place of worship

-Your university alumni association

-Create your own networking group

In addition to meeting in person, you can network via Zoom and Skype – so geography should not be a deterrent.

Why. Hopefully, I answered this question at the outset.

Let’s add one more:

How. Here are eight tips for the logistics of 1:1 networking:

-Don’t be too aggressive when you first reach out.

-Don’t assume they will participate.

-Make it 80% about them; 20% about you.

-Be able to clearly articulate what you are looking for and what you bring to the table.

-Have an ask planned – AND be open to other ideas your networking partner might have.

-Follow-up and follow through is essential.

-This should not be a one-time thing – have a plan for on-going communication.

-Keep records!

If you are attending a networking event, here are eight tips:

-Have a plan ahead of time. Is there someone specific you want to meet, or do you want to meet a certain number of people? This allows you to have a measure for success.

-Stand near the beverage or food station – avoid the corners.

-Be interested first, then interesting.

-Don’t hesitate to leave a conversation and move on – it’s the nature of the beast.

-Be able to clearly articulate what you are looking for and what you bring to the table.

-Follow-up and follow through is essential.

-Keep notes.

-Periodically review the networking circles you are in and make changes as needed to maximize your effectiveness.

Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The CareerSpring document and coaching program will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.

If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level by working with a highly experienced professional with a track record of client success, schedule a complimentary consult to learn more:


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