Yes you need a LinkedIn profile and there’s 4 compelling reasons why.
I work with really, really smart people who for some reason don’t believe me when I tell them that 70-80% of all jobs are never posted.
Yup 70-80%! What that means is that sending your resume into a black hole is going to be WAY less effective than having one meaningful conversation with someone.
I try to impress on my clients that networking is imperative. That it’s a must-do. Now, I know you hate networking. Everyone hates networking. But if you look at it as a way to help other people by connecting them to that person who can get them their dream gig… boom
- it becomes a fun, heart-warming, do good activity and not a smarmy sell-yourself, make it rain business cards, gross-fest.
That said, even if you get in the right mindset about it, official networking events can be really intimidating. It is easier to network at smaller, less official event - but what do you do when you need to go to an “official” Networking Event?
Here are my 20 tips to make these events valuable, way less awkward and yes… even fun! (I know crazy right?)
Are you letting your Linkedin do your networking for you? No?! Then grab my free cheatsheet “Make Your LinkedIn Work for You: Top 10 Recruiter Approved LinkedIn Musts”
20 Tips to Make Networking Events Way Less Sucky:
1) Set a goal to have 1, 2 or 3 meaningful conversations… TOTAL.
2) Yes, wear the dumb name tag (on the right side if possible) it’s really helpful for
those who struggle with names.
3) Remind yourself of the value you offer!
4) Smile, but not all Joker creepy-like. Keep it genuine.
5) This is the time to be your best self and to listen. Meaningful networking
Means offering value and help to others, not just grabbing at anyone who can help you.
6) Say “hi” to anyone you know to get comfortable in the space and to get chatting - but keep it short and sweet.
7) Take a lap around the space. Check out who’s where, what’s where, etc.
8) Keep your right hand free for shaking hands (AKA keep your left hand free to hold the booze!)
9) The key to connecting is listening, asking open-ended questions and genuinely listening to the answers. Start with questions like, “What brought you here tonight?”
10) Offer your valuable help! After chit chatting for a bit, ask, “How best can I help you?” or “What’s your biggest pain-point right now?”
11) Introduce any people you know to other people you know.
12) If you’ve forgotten someone’s name (and they didn’t bother with the name tag) - be honest about it: “We met last year at the vodka launch, right? Of course, I remember you, but I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.”
13) Have your business cards in an easily grabbable spot (yes, actual cards).
14) It’s ok to break into conversations, especially in larger groups. Go ahead - introduce yourself.
15) Ending one on one conversations can be awkward - just hand over your card in a lull and say that you’d love to keep in touch, learn more etc. or you can say that you want to connect with a few more people before the event ends and ask for their card before scurrying off
16) Even if it’s a boozy event, it’s ok not to drink! Or, if appropriate - go to town! Just beware of punch mouth.
17) Avoid sticking to the walls with your face in your phone. Get yourself out there!
18) Try not to go to these things on an empty stomach - because you want to focus on the conversations, not the tray of shrimp balls
19) If you can introduce yourself to the organizer of the event, do it!
20) Go with the goal of helping others and being “authentic” means you’ll form more genuine connections and build meaningful relationships.
- - -
Phew. I know that was a lot right? But look, I don’t care what industry you work in, what role you have, what your goals are -- you HAVE TO network.
There are so many ways to network - find one that works for you. Totally online? Fine. Only in person? Great. Speed networking at hyper-specific conferences? You do you. Just do something.
Yours in career goodness-
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Before I work with any client I always ask them one question:
“What is the #1 thing holding you back from career success?”
To this question I get dozens of answers. Dozens and dozens. Like way too many dozens of eggs left over from Easter dozens. But all of those answers are rewordings of one single problem. Always.
“A clear focus on what I want to do/should be doing.”
I hear you. So loud. So clear. Trust me when I tell you I know the frustration. The feeling that somehow everyone else has been let in on some secret that you’re not cool enough to know.
The secret though? That’s bullshit. Most people feel the same way you do!
Why? What the hell man?! It’s because we’re not taught how to manage our careers. We’re taught what to know to get certain jobs and sometimes how to get jobs, but rarely, if ever, how to manage our careers once we’re in them.
We are left to our own devices and frazzled HR directors who have no time to have a career growth chat because they have to run payroll, get the new benefits system up and running and talk to Joe about not wearing his daisy dukes even on casual Fridays.
So what then? What are you supposed to do?
For starters, you absolutely don’t have to figure out your career all by yourself. Below is a roundup of some resources you might find helpful:
You could start with career blogs. There are so many talented people out there writing and offering help, to you, for free.
Want someone to do the heavy lifting for you? Leverage recruiters and even temp agencies! Their job is to analyze your skills and place you in a job you’d thrive in. You could try some national agencies like Premier Staffing or Robert Half.
You could try taking a few tests. I personally am not a fan of these and I don’t use them in my practice but many people really like them and find them useful. There is one called Strengthsfinder that many companies rely on. Once you know what your strengths are you can make sure you are focusing on those in whatever role you’re in because working to your strengths = happiness.
Oprah apparently has an awesome (and free) career assessment test too!
And of course there are career coaches. Now I know private coaching isn’t an option for everyone - but it truly IS the most comprehensive option.
That said, many coaches offer lower cost group programs or self-paced online courses. There are so many amazing coaches out there - you just need to do a little research to find the best one for you.
See what I’m getting at? Don’t feel like you’re left to your own devices. Try one, two or a few - whatever feels good to you. But don’t leave your career to chance. Figure out what you love to do, want to do and make a plan.
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It has become ingrained in our culture that we need to “Follow Your Bliss” and “Do What You Love” and all sorts of other platitudes. And yeah - I believe that you 100% should do the things that bring you joy and that light your fire and yeah, that you’re passionate about. But I do NOT agree that you need to make your passion your source of income.