The job search shouldn’t only be about applying, but instead it should be about making connections.
Having a strong, valuable, and engaged network of people that you can call on will be super helpful to you as you develop both personally and professionally.
This post (and accompanying video) is aimed for those who are struggling to find a job and don’t know what the next steps to take are.
This post is also for those who are at a crossroads and need some motivation and encouragement to start networking and building relationships with new people.
Let me digress a bit….
Many of you reading this post are aspiring entrepreneurs.
One day you plan on running your own business, having your OWN offices, and answering to NO ONE.
Go you! I applaud you.
Let’s face the facts. Not everyone can get a go out and start their own company and be successful from the very beginning. Alot of times, you have to hustle and hold down a 9-5 while you work on your entrepreneurial passions.
Okay, back to the story. As some of you may know, I currently work a full-time job as a Marketing Coordinator for a distribution company. It’s an interesting, fun, and very engaging position. I’m learning alot about a space (logistic, distribution, and ecommerce) that I knew ABSOLUTELY nothing about before I started back in October 2014.
How the hell did I get my job?
Short answer: I spoke to a stranger on a plane! (Hence, the title of this article)
While on a business trip during my post-graduate fellowship, I struck up a conversation with my seatmate. It turned out he was an executive coach. I thought it would be worthwhile to stay in contact with him and build a working relationship (which I did!) A few months after we met, he recommended me to one his clients. who was the CEO of a distribution company in New Jersey. I met with her, and she later ended up hiring me to join her marketing team.
If you want to hear the full story, check out this video below. I tell you in DETAIL the story and also provide some tips that you can use in your life to start meeting new people, build great relationships, and field great opportunities that come your way.
If you want to watch the shorter version of this video, click here.
Here are some key takeaways from the video:
1. You won’t get a job (or any opportunity you are seeking) by simply filling out applications online and hoping someone will respond.
Most of the jobs and opportunities that have come my way have been by way of relationships I’ve made or that I was connected to. I hardly ever got a position by filling out an application online and waiting for a reply. Perhaps others have been more successful than me in that arena. I’ve found talking to people and engaging in conversation has helped.
2. Building your personal brand is important.
You need some kind of “portfolio of credibility.” People want to know what you’ve done and what you’re interested in doing. Know how to talk about your interests and your core “persona.” Need to figure out what your personal brand is? Read this article.
3. Talking to strangers can open up opportunities you never knew existed.
In his work “The Strength of Weak Ties” Mark Granovetter talks about how when looking for jobs, weak ties may often than not provide more opportunities than strong personal ties. I encourage you to check out and read the piece in its entirety. (Shout out to any sociology majors out there who may know this work off hand.)
4. Provide value to others ALWAYS.
Don’t think about what someone can do for you. Think: What can you do for this person that you met? Be useful, but be genuine about it.
5. Make sure your communication skills are on point.
If you’re not a natural conversationalist, practice. Please, practice your written and verbal communication. Know how to craft a solid email. Practice moderating meetings. Step up your social skills. A good book that you can read (and I highly recommend) that will help in this area is Andrew Carnegie’s How to Win Friends And Influence People.
6. You have to be your best advocate.
No one can go harder for you than you can. Believe in yourself! Practice talking about yourself and your goals with CONVICTION. Make others fall in love with your dreams just by hearing you talk about them. (Hint: Find something you are passionate about.) When you open your doors and proactively build relationships (and provide value), you will find that many doors will open for you.
7. Follow up + give thanks.
A simple thank-you goes a long time. People remember the people that remember them. Be that person that follows up, and most importantly, says thank- you. Time is precious so if someone gives you theirs, show appreciation for it.
8. Stop being fearful.
Expand your horizons. Sometimes we get in our own way of achieving greatness. When we impose limits on what we should and shouldn’t do, we cast clouds on what may be a wonderful journey. Step outside your comfort zone. If I would have never engaged with the individual on the plane (who has now become like a mentor-figure to me), I would have a totally different experience right now.
…There’s so much more that I could add to this list. If you more to add, or have any questions for me, please COMMENT!
Some books I highly recommend you read:
Never Eat Alone. This book outlines how you can become a networking pro even if you’re shy and not confident with reaching out and connecting with strangers. Keith Ferrazzi tells alot about his own story and also breaks down the key components to building a strong and valuable network. Get the book. Like now.
How To Win Friends And Influence People. This is a classic book on how to maintain and grow relationships in your personal and professional life. I read it cover to cover and took lots of notes in the book margins. When I say that you’ll never look at relationships and communication the same, please believe me.
Please note: The above are affiliate links. I’ll make a small commission if you decide to buy.
What’s one way networking has helped create new opportunities for you? Share your story in the COMMENTS section below.
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