Yesterday morning I again went to the weekly meeting of NoCoNet – an organization focused on supporting the needs of job seekers here in northern Colorado. I can’t recommend it highly enough, because it’s an invaluable way to keep you focused on developing skills and pursuing jobs.
Yesterday’s presentation topic was on networking, something I’m not all that comfortable with. So I was grateful to hear the presenter, Derek Filkins, promote the idea that you need to network in a way which is most authentic to your style.
Being mostly an introvert, networking has always been a struggle for me – it takes lots of energy for me to interact with strangers. One way I’ve found to deal with this is to make my circle of friends as wide as possible, so I no longer have to view them as strangers, but as supporters and colleagues.
Derek did a great job of explaining the range of networking contacts, from the easiest to the hardest. On the easy end are situations where exploration is expected, such as social functions, social media websites, and associations. Much more difficult are the actual hiring decision makers, who are able to place people in positions, create new positions, and foresee the need for future employees.
The point is that you have to work your way up to these decision makers. The more narrowly targeted you are, the more energy you’ll be able to expend on reaching each one. You start with your existing network of colleagues and supporters, building references and relationships to reach people they know, and successively work toward those who make the decisions.
Derek also mentioned the 7% of people who will ultimately create their own businesses, and it seems likely at this point that I will fall into that camp. So I spent another hour after the networking presentation, hearing from another gentleman who has opened his own franchise business here in town. He did a wonderful job explaining how he worked toward the decision, including teaming up with a partner and selecting the right business for himself.
I don’t know if I’m excited about franchising at this point, but it was a great perspective for anyone interested in going into business for themselves.
The neat thing about NoCoNet, being scheduled for the first thing Monday morning, is that it kicks off my energy for the rest of the week. So I already have made some great contacts yesterday who might be able to connect me with jobs in coaching companies.
Building the network, brick by brick.