Networking the New Way
How professional relationships have changed and how to make them work for you
Currently 20 million people are unemployed in the U.S., and if I asked any one of you, I’m sure you personally know 5 or more people that are job searching right now. And if you’re like me, you want to help them in some way, right?
But how? The job market is soft, layoffs are continuing, and companies around the world have instituted hiring freezes. However, believe it or not, some industries are thriving right now, and those companies ARE hiring! So, how can you beat unemployment right now? The answer is simple — good, old fashioned networking (with the help of some 21st century, Covid-appropriate technology, of course).
Networking is changing because of COVID — quarantine is still a necessity for some and may be a reality for a long time, the lockdown has closed several businesses and halted entire industries, and in-person gatherings are a definite no-go. But what’s so unique about this time in our world is that just because the world has stopped does not mean our need for connection has stopped — and our need for relationship creates incredibly unique opportunities for real-time, much-needed networking, especially now.
When you research statistics about job searching, you find that a whopping 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Someone recommends someone they know, someone hands a neighbor a resume, and other personal connections — that’s how people find a job, not through online applications, but by knowing someone.
Mutual connections are also the #1 way Americans meet their spouses — how much more do you think this matters in a professional sense, when there are thousands of possible connections to make and not just one soul mate to find? It’s important to remember the value of personal connections and recommendations and use that to our advantage in this mid-pandemic job market, even if that means approaching personal connection in a new way — and that’s the digital way!
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh, geez, not another Zoom meeting” — but yes, that’s exactly what I’m proposing. Why? Because seeing someone face-to-face, even through a screen, creates a better connection and sparks meaningful conversation. There is so much power in having a conversation face-to-face. Think about it — no one ever used to complain about going to a networking event where you created meaningless conversation, passed out business cards, and hung out with fun people. It was easy and comfortable.
Digital networking pushes us outside our comfort zone, because it creates a more intimate connection, requiring us to be acknowledged when we speak up and forcing others to truly hear what we have to say. When you’re face-to-face with a person, especially on Zoom — you can’t hide, you have to engage in the conversation. If you approach conversations in the right way with intentionality and purpose, you can help more than just yourself — you may have a valuable connection for that person to reach out to, you may have a friend who needs to reach out to this person, and other possibilities. When we listen to one another and network, powerful connections take place and many new people can be connected.
According to research conducted by Psychology Today, we are “wired for compassion” and “whether or not [people] are helping themselves, our first impulse is to help them.” We are hard-wired to help others; it’s in our DNA!
Whether these tips are for you and your quest to help those around you, or you’re the friend that really needs help right now — learning to seek out the benefits of networking will change your career and your life. Here are 5 things you can do to help connect the people in your world and take advantage of networking in our unique job market:
#1 — Be Responsive! When someone in your network reaches out, answer! It takes guts to reach out to someone regarding employment, and if someone is asking for your help, they really need it. Think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed. Look, I know you’re busy and have a lot of things happening — but you’d want that person to respond if you needed help. And who knows, you might be the connecting puzzle piece that brings them to their dream job!
#2 — Be Proactive! If you see someone you know or in your network that’s looking for a job, see what you can do to help them. Initiate conversations and invite them to a Zoom call!
#3 — Be Flexible! Your time is valuable, but so is theirs. The people in our lives experiencing unemployment right now are doing everything they can to find a new position, support themselves and their families. That being said, prioritize their time — if they ask for a call on a Saturday, accommodate them. Netflix can wait a few minutes!
#4 — Be Creative! The Contract Interiors industry is made up of creative thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers. Take the same approach to helping others with their job search — offer alternatives, suggest different avenues, provide connections, and send relevant resources to help them discover new opportunities.
#5 — Be Open! Be open to the possibility that the other person can help you more than you might be able to help them. It’s a powerful experience when we open ourselves up to receiving the gifts others have to offer. Some of the most important relationships in my life and most powerful connections in my business have come from those I never expected to gain blessings from — sometimes the unexpected conversations open up really important connections.
The people in our community need us — they need you! They need and want our help. We all need to come together and support each other, and together, we will survive and eventually thrive!
Digital networking can be powerful and I’ve decided to take the lead and hopefully start a trend in supporting others. On Monday, July 20th at 4:00 PM Central — I’m hosting a virtual networking event! This event is for anyone who wants to attend — doesn't matter if you’re employed or unemployed, let’s come together and support each other. I’ll provide a few opening thoughts in the beginning — then we’ll go into breakout rooms and give you the opportunity to network and get to know each other in a smaller more intimate setting, all on Zoom!!!
You can register for this event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEvdOyrqjgsHdHbf5vkrERNa7IIa-1KlEHh
Let’s come together, connect our community, and support those who need it the most!