As an adult, I've found one of the truest phrases to come out of anywhere has been the "It's not what you know, it's who you know." There's been so many instances where I've been granted opportunities just because I've known someone. I think this is one of the reasons why it's important to network. You unlock doors.
Last week as we were wrapping up our final two weeks at work, we were lucky to get a couple of hours with a great lady in regards on how to update our resumes and personal profiles, whilst we worked on attempting to get back into the workforce. I was particularly interested in the part of the session surrounding networking, because trying to work out what in the world to do now that I'm jobless has been a huge stress. Surprisingly however, for being the most introverted extrovert that you can meet - as mentioned earlier, networking isn't actually something that is new to me.
"I know you don't believe me, but some of the best people who can network successfully are introverts; you're amazing at listening, and that's a big thing for establishing your network."
The instructor's words had hit a bit of an odd silence. There were a few strange looks around the room; many of my colleagues had been at the company for a lot longer than myself, and there was certainly concern that, sure enough, they were introverts and getting out there in the wider community, putting yourself on the line and having that vulnerability, was not going to be an easy task.
"You can be a successful at networking, even if you're an introvert."
So what exactly is networking?
Gone are the days where networking is some super lame event that you feel obligated to go along to, hand out your business card and hope for the best. I'm sure that might still happen out there in the world, but it can be so much more. My person opinion of networking is creating connections with people outside your normal bubble, and being able to seek out more knowledge than you'd be able to do by yourself. We have such a giant resource (the internet) but it's always just as great to be able to sit down face to face (or over the phone) and get life experience from someone who knows what they're talking about!
My history with networking:
My experience with networking, on a more traditional level, went back 12 months ago, where I built up the courage to go to a meet and greet day to The Hive, which is run by two #bossbabe girls, Annie and Linda, who were a delight on the day and made me feel super welcome!
(that's me there on the end right!)
It was a no pressure environment, a few drinks were had, and laid the foundations for upcoming events that they've been running now over the past year - and they've got a super cool one in a few weeks on how to find a mentor (yay!)
Our little city is, well, little (like me!) - so going to this first gathering, I'd plucked up the courage to then go along to one of the The League of Extraordinary Women events. I super loved these events as well - and I've come back a number of times over the year to my notes and takeaways from keynote speakers in different industries.
In fairness, I didn't speak to the speakers after the events, but there was always time before and after to speak to the other attendees.
Were you getting to a point here...?
Yes, of course! From coming from the first Hive catch up, and going between the events and joining the Facebook groups - I quickly started seeing familiar faces at them. It helped me gain confidence to go up to people I didn't know, and ask them what exactly did they do?
I've met amazing people who for example
- Run an escape room
- Are an editor of a bridal magazine
- Own an award winning, eco friendly natural deodorant brand
- Design video games for Nintendo
and that's just the tip of the talent out there!
What makes it super relevant towards now is that when I started having my breakdown with the redundancy announcement, it made me think what direction did I want to go in?
I popped a few posts up on my Facebook, asking around for work but to no real avail, but when I started to fine tune potential projects (Has anyone had experience with content writing? Has anyone ever written a book? Can anyone tell me about xyz thing?) - that's when things started to turn around.
Not only for the people who I had spoken to at these events to come forward, but people who I hadn't spoken to in literally 10 years and I had no idea they had the knowledge that they did, reached out to offer advice and guidance. To say I was super shocked was an understatement, and completely overwhelming.
The best part about all of this was the fact that at the start of the thinking process, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue. I didn't know where to start, or who to talk to, but just with a few (hardly) well thought out posts- I started to get an action plan down pat!
Look, that's great, but I don't have friends/leave the house/etc
To be honest, that's just an excuse, and not a great one. Remember above where I said we had a super great big resource? Yeah, if you're reading this - you've got access to the internet which means you've access to network. Here's a couple of options on the world wide web:
LinkedIn - If you've been fortunate enough if your life to have a job - a good place to start is LinkedIn. It will allow you to connect to others on the site, particularly old school friends in a professional setting, and past and present co-workers. However as a disclaimer, whilst I've got a profile on there, as a millenial without a super amazing job repertoire, I haven't found it that useful, apart from being able to follow industry professionals
Twitter - Potentially a highly under utilized platform, especially in Australia, unless someone's profile is private, you can literally tweet a question to anyone on the site. I used to tweet (read: annoy) my two favourite artists on there all the time with questions about their career and when they were coming back to tour - and now I'm friends with one of them on Facebook! Granted, that's a good feel story - and not all the time you're going to get a response, but I find most people are usually pretty happy to have a chat to you if you're in a similar field.
Facebook - Yeah the good ol' cliche one - but honestly, there's not a platform as big or wide as Facebook, and there are so many good options for groups out there. Searching up "networking" in the search box, and adding a few key fields of interest and you'll be chatting and increasing your social circle in no time.
To once again revisit that age-old saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is so, so true. Statistics show that nearly 80% of job opportunities are never advertised. Even if you're not looking for a new job, expanding your base of people that may assist to provide you opportunities in the future (or, you could help them! It goes both ways!) - it's something that I'd encourage everyone to be mindful of.
What's your favourite way to reach out and meet other professionals? Have a favourite group on Facebook? Let me know in the comments below!