“Why Should I Network? I’m Not Job Searching!”

“Why Should I Network? I’m Not Job Searching!”

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled, “How to Fail at Networking,” and I encourage you to check it out if you’re actively job searching.

What about networking when you’re NOT actively job searching?

For many, the idea of networking on an on-going basis is, well, a waste of time. After all, there’s no doubt lots more important stuff on your plate, right?

WRONG.

Sure, there may be more urgent stuff on your plate, but maintaining – and growing – your professional network is one of the most important things you can do for long-term career/business success.

Here, then, are my three tops tips for networking for non-job seekers:

##

  1. Be intentional.

Set aside time in your weekly schedule for networking activities, and make sure those activities are serving your short- and long-term professional goals.

Are you a member of a networking organization? Make sure you are scheduling one-on-one meetings in addition to the larger group meeting.

What about setting aside one lunch or pre-work coffee date each week for a networking appointment?

Is there a new organization you would like to try? Maybe it will be a good choice, maybe not…you won’t know until you give it a try.

  1. Be spontaneous.

The flip side of being intentional is allowing yourself to be spontaneous with your networking.

Say you are at a Chamber function and you meet someone you really connect with. Let’s also say this person is not obviously a logical networking contact for you.

If you’re feeling it, and the other person seems to be feeling it, go for it.

I could tell story after story of when I’ve allowed myself to be spontaneous like this, and almost always with great results.

Sometimes it was because this person needed to be in my life, in a way I could never have imagined.

Sometimes our meeting allowed me to cross something off my list or recognize something about myself. (In other words, it didn’t go well, but my take-away was worth my time.)

  1. Be present.

To make the most of each networking interaction, be present. Pay attention to the other person, with a particular ear to how you can provide value.

What are they struggling with…trying to accomplish…making a decision about?

What resource, person, or approach can you suggest to help with the above?

If your focus is on the other person and not yourself, the return on your investment will come in ways you cannot imagine.

  1. Make it about them.

It’s okay if you don’t have a specific “ask” for your networking contact. Perhaps you just want to get to know that individual better.

As I’m fond of saying, “Noah didn’t wait until it started raining to build the ark.” If you’re diligent with your networking when the sun is shining on your career, you can be sure your network will be there for you when the inevitable rains come.

ECC Services

ECC Podcasts

Don't miss a moment of Lesa Edwards' Exclusive Career Coaching podcasts. This weekly podcast covers all things career management including job search strategies, interviewing tips, networking tools, maximizing LinkedIn, salary negotiations, and managing your mindset around your career.