The New York Times recently published an article on how larger companies are increasingly using their own employees to find new hires through referrals. This trend makes good business sense as it saves time and money. And it left me to think that the life of a hermit crab is going to get really tough in today’s job market. According to the Department of Labor, the average unemployed worker today is jobless for 38 weeks. Besides being a call to get your emergency savings up, this is a call to get your connections up; meaningful ones.
However, the thought of building connections through “networking” may make some people cringe. Some people may view this as hobnobbing, schmoozing, or down and dirty brown-nosing. This is deeper than the superficial “friends” you have through social media. However, I’m not discrediting social media, just stating it is merely a link to a possible meaningful connection. Here are some tips on building your connections up.
Start in your natural environment.
Do your neighbors know who are and what you do? Have you taken time to get to know coworkers outside your department? Do you know other parents at your child’s school? If you answered no to all 3 questions you have some work to do. Start with a smile, a wave hello, say good morning, and take little opportunities to strike up a conversation without expecting anything in return. Connections are much easier to build when you’re not looking to receive, so build them before you need them.
Warm your cold connections.
The next time someone accepts or sends you a connection request on social media send them a thank you message. Send birthday and congratulatory messages whenever possible. This gives an opportunity for people to remember who you are. You can also add an open-ended question to encourage a two-way conversation, such as “How do you like your new job?” These simple gestures take a little time, but may lead to a rewarding meaningful connection.
(Not a people pleaser or pushover) Making connections is pointless if you turn around and burn them. That’s called building walls. There must be a good reason why Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is still a popular book since published in 1936. This is long before Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s about getting back to the basics and applying it in the new millennium.
What do you have to offer? At career fairs people are always drawn to the booth that’s giving away the cool knick-knacks. Give to open yourself to the opportunities to receive.
In this fast paced world, it may be challenging to find time to build relationships. For some it comes natural and it shows by their success and for others not so much. Thankfully this is a skill you can learn. Research and finds ways to build relationships and make connections in a way that comes natural to you. Remember, in today’s job market, keeping your connections up means keeping your money up.