Post career at old Firm, my plan has been to spend May, June and July figuring out what to do next and let my imagination run free. When it comes to Networking, I’ve been thinking I would avoid it until I have a clear objective. The clear objective or objectives to have magically popped out by the end of July ;-). However the Penna networking course I did the other day convinced me that this is not necessarily the best approach and that my muddledness could actually translate into some clear networking objectives. The instructor painted a compelling picture which looked like this:

To start with her assertion was that Your Network is the Backbone that is going to Support you through your working life rather than putting your faith in a ‘paper contract’ of some sort. Also, rather like a garden, it is something that needs to be continuously tended rather than only tidied up after the occasional storm blows along. She referred to this as having a Journey Mindset. For someone who’s quite comfortable with being an introverted recluse, this was quite a radical concept. Yet a compelling one as she was debunking the idea that Networking was something you should rush out and do lots off (groan) once one becomes unemployed, but rather something that one should be doing generally, more of, throughout one’s life. Because that is how the world works, baby!

Or, if I’m being super cynical, this is all just some corporate tarting up of the ancient proverb of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Anyway, the first misconception that networking is just to find a job was debunked. Not looking for a job right now? No excuse. You should be networking now in the same way you go to the gym or go for a run. Because you need to, to maintain your health and because you will get something out of it, possibly even some enjoyment.

The second misconception she debunked was that not knowing what you want to OR not wanting to enter the job market quite yet was an excuse. It’s not. If you are unclear what your networking goals are because you’re not sure what your career goals are then it’s REALLY EASY. If you don’t know what you want to do or go for then your GOAL is to FIND OUT!

My approach to this, as you may guess, is to analyse the hell out of it and make notes. I could just be getting on with it I guess. However I’m not blogging for fun you know, this is all part of the process. There was a huge amount of material on the Networking course so I’m going to split this bit into 2+ posts. One about the theory and one about putting it into practice: Setting the Goals. Which is great because it buys me more time to proactively procrastinate and put off the hard stuff ( I got excited there thinking I’d  come up with a new phrase, my own ‘conscious uncoupling‘ moment, but apparently not ). On the other hand, I’m promising to post those goals so now I’m going to have to do it!

What Is Networking?

  • Building and maintaining positive relationships and trust
  • Mutual exchange of information/contacts/ideas/advice/help
  • Social interaction with a purpose and a goal in mind
  • Helping you define what you want to do in the future
  • The most effective marketing tool
  • Creating and managing your own reputation (integrity, credibility)
    • Skills
    • Knowledge
    • Behaviour
      • Be sincere and direct
      • Be objective / park your emotions
      • Don’t put people under pressure

Why Network?

  • Useful to a Purchaser when seeking an Employee (Hiring) or purchasing a Product or a Service
  • Useful to a Seller when seeking a Job or selling a Product or a Service
  • Get Advice And Support And Ideas
    • Mentors
    • Encouragement
  • Create Opportunities
  • Increase Contribution Via Collaboration
  • Maintain Industry Knowledge
  • Find Investment
  • Make Connections For Business
  • Use Network For Personal References and Testimonials
  • Increase Your Visibility And Get On People’s Radar

How To Network

Plan, Prepare, Practice, Present

  1. Build Your Networking Circle
  2. Be Clear About Your Networking Goals
  3. Identify Your Targets
  4. Set Your Objectives ( e.g. for a meeting )
  5. Secure The Meeting
  6. Prepare For The meeting
  7. Follow Up After The Meeting

1. Build Your Networking Circle

  • Add at least 1 new person to your network every x weeks
  • Contact at least 1 existing person in your network every x weeks
  • Be prepared to change assumptions or conclusions about Who can be helpful.
  • Have a Journey Mindset – make networking a Habit
  • Keep Records, reminders to Follow Up etc
  • Plan, Prepare, Practice and Present
  • Develop your networking Brand in a Continuous, Planned and Systematic way.

2. Be Clear About Your Networking Goals

  • What are my Current career/business Goals?
  • Where would I Benefit from developing new contacts?
  • What are my Strengths and Weaknesses? Who can help Clarify them?
  • Where do I need an injection of new Ideas?
  • Which organisations do respect? How can I connect with them?
  • Who would be most helpful for me at the moment?

3. Identify Your Individual Target And A Strategy To Make Contact

  • Do you have contacts In Common?
  • Do you Belong to the same professional bodies?
  • Do you have Similar interests or hobbies?
  • How might you Meet them?
  • How should you make the first Approach?

4. Set Your Meeting Objectives

  • What do I want from this meeting?
  • How does it further my Goals?
  • How long do I have/need?
  • What will the other person want to get out of the meeting?
  • How can I help them meet their goals and objectives?
  • What do I need to know about my contact or their business?
  • What basic research do I need to have undertaken beforehand?
  • How will I measure the success of the meeting?

5. Secure The Meeting

  • Decide on best method:
    • For The Goal: e.g. F2F is better for Impact
    • For The Target: e.g. email, phone, F2F
  • Calling Advice:
    • Prepare and Practice
    • Script: Intro, Reasons For Calling, Future Action Points
    • Have Clear Objectives
    • Be brief and to the point. Be Specific as possible.
    • Communicate clearly, openly, naturally, informally, positively, and smile.
    • Be Assertive: Use PULL (empathy) and PUSH (sincere and direct)
    • Be Courteous and thank people
    • Be You At Your Best
  • Structure
    • Greeting/Introduction
    • Establish Connection:
      • We met at…
      • I recently spoke to… who recommended you…
      • I thought of you specifically for advice / insight
    • State Objectives
      • I would value your thoughts on…
      • I wanted to check whether you would be willing to
      • I would like to ask you advice on…
      • Can I check whether there is anyone you can recommend…
      • Avoid questions which prompt Yes or No
    • Reassure
      • You do not expect any jobs on offer, or know of any, or expect them to buy products or services
    • Offer Something
      • You might be interested…
      • Is there anything I can do for you…
      • Show your relationship is the most important thing to you in the conversation
    • Ask For A Brief Meeting
      • Offer alternative dates and times, 1-2 weeks ahead.
      • Offer to visit.
    • Confirm and end on an enthusiastic note.
    • Follow up by email/txt etc (phone) or phone (email/letter)
      • Allow 12/14 days if you are expecting  response

Exit Statement

I had a successful career as an IT developer and manager at (the Investment Bank) Morgan Stanley where I joined as a graduate. The last role I was in was moved to Budapest so I was given this great opportunity to have some time off and explore new options.

Elevator Pitch

SHOULD BE REFINED FOR EACH APPROACH.

Key Elements

  • Profession/level: I am a..
  • Key functions & capabilities: With specialist knowledge and expertise in…
  • Technical and personal qualities: My strengths lie in…
  • Summary of types of organisations/sectors/roles: I have worked for/in…
  • Focus & rationale: I am now looking for…

I have 18 years experience working in Equity Risk IT as both a developer, manager and team lead. I’ve performed a variety of roles in my career and I’m well used to working on the full life cycle of projects and systems in a delivery focused environment. Over the years, I’ve specialised in a number of core functions, particularly Valuation Risk, and I founded, built out and evolved the Mark Review function in IT for the Equity Derivatives Business. I’m an accomplished global team worker and communicator, and a typical day would involve collaborating with IT colleagues in London, New York, Hong Kong or Budapest, and with clients across Valuation Risk, Firm Risk Management, Equity Trading, Finance, Quants or Operations. I particularly like solving problems for my clients and working with them to enable and improve their business processes. I’ve been told by my clients that I provide them with excellent support, and I’ve been told by people who have worked for me that I have been a great coach. Lastly, I think the longevity of my career at a demanding Firm, not unlike XYZ,  demonstrates that I am an adaptable, motivated and delivery focused employee. I’m now looking for a similar role in software development.

6. Prepare For The Meeting

  • Plan A Structure
  • Identify
    • Thank
    • Intro – Repeat Exit, Elevator, Establish Connection, State Objectives, Reassure
  • Exchange Info  – Have a Two-Sided Meeting
    • Ask for Thoughts, advice, ideas, info
    • OFFER Something
    • Is there anything I can do for you?
    • Type of Information
      • Required Skills/Expertise
      • Firm Culture
      • Challenges/Problems
        • How Can I Add Value?
  • Introductions
    • Is there anyone you can recommend/suggest/think of?
    • Ask permission to use your contact’s name
  • Initiative
    • Thank you for your time and help today.
    • I’ll let you know…, I will get back to you on…
  • Have Question’s written down
  • Have info you want to share readily available
  • Anticipate questions and prepare the responses
  • Practice answers and elevator pitch
  • Research company, wider business sector
  • Research individual and LinkedIn profile
  • Have a business card ready.

7. Follow Up After The Meeting

  • Send a Thank You note
  • Give an example of how the meeting/conversation has helped you
  • Get back to them with any agreed actions
  • Update them on progress
  • Reiterate an offer of help

Dealing With Networking Events

  • Be Clear about Your Networking Goals
  • Be Clear about the Event Objective
    • Getting Contacts you can follow up with later
  • Listen, then Ask Questions
  • Do You Have Common Ground?
    • Yes => Get Contact Details
    • No => Exit
      • ‘We should move on and meet other people’
      • State your objective
      • Use your business card to say goodbye

Use Networking To Get Feedback

On:

  • How you came across
  • Your skills/strengths/dev areas

Use Feedback:

  • On You when answering interview questions
  • On strengths
  • On products
  • On marketing documents
  • On pitch from clients
  • On career options
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