Justine and I were having a Strategy Session recently and during the conversation she asked me a very interesting question. She has a high-powered/high-energy role in a large financial institution on the east coast and works lots of hours every week – probably upwards of 65 hours – and returns home every day exhausted, using every ounce of energy for work and her family. Justine stated that although she understood the value of networking and having a large contact list, she couldn’t see how this would help her find a new role. Her question: “How can I maximize my contact list and make sure that I am tapping into the opportunities out there while I am working?”
Good question. In today’s world, having any time for you is problematic, let alone conducting a passive job search while working. The answer lies in networking but with a twist (or a retro-focus).
The first known use of the term “networking” began in 1967 and, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary means “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business (emphasis mine).”
It is the CULTIVATION of PRODUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS that comes first before finding employment or business opportunities!
But let’s go back to Justine’s question.
The answer lies in an old concept that building a cadre of friends and business associates is much more effective than having a large list of contacts that really don’t know you too well.
With the rise of social media, the idea of nurturing friends and associates has been short-circuited and many today feel that they have a “network” if they have a lot of contacts on Linked-In! Unfortunately, that is a bit of convenient deception.
I’d like to introduce a new concept – Friendship Marketing. It was first introduced to me though a book of that same name written by Gerald R. Baron in 1997. According to Baron, there are four elements of Friendship Marketing which I’ve updated for today’s world.
These four principles are: 1) Visibility, 2) Credibility, 3) Engagement, and 4) Performance. These four elements work both online and in person but they are ESSENTIAL to the cultivation of productive relationships and must be attended to before you ask for any employment or business exchanges.
So, how does Justine move from a contact list to a true network of friends and business associates, employing Friendship Marketing Principles?
Here are the first steps that will help Justine and you to move from contacts to friendships :
- Segment Your List. There are two types of network lists: 1) Associates and 2) Contacts. Your Associates are those that know you and you know them. These are the folks that you’ve cultivated over time. Your Contacts are those that you have a connection with via social media (i.e. Linked In) or are part of a membership list of some kind.
- Organize Your Associate List. There are three types of Associate List members: 1) Power Brokers – those that are one or two levels above you in your career, 2) Peers – those that are at the same level as you in your career, and 3) Pay-It-Forwards – those that are one or two levels below you in your career. During either an active or passive job search, focus on finding opportunities with your Power Brokers in your network.
- Network for Power Brokers. Whenever you attend functions – either locally or within your industry national – determine to meet and cultivate new Power Brokers. These Power Brokers are the “check writers” for your career movement; not Peers. Peers are great for information in your performing your job, but they are NOT about building your career. It is the difference between working “on” your career and being proactive now for your next role.
- Cultivate Friends. Friendship Marketing is a concept of building trust before you ask for opportunities. In today’s hectic world, we will naturally favor those who we know and want to help than the random person who contacts via our Linked In messaging service.
The difference between helping someone I don’t know versus helping someone I do know is tremendous. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind helping – but if I don’t know you, the likelihood of me pulling on my friends to help someone I don’t really know is pretty low. I’d rather work and help someone who is my friend than someone who isn’t.
So Justine needs to work on the cultivation of Power Brokers and build a relationship of mutual exchange, not just schmoozing. If she begins now with that attitude and approach, when she really does need to move on, she’ll have the actual resources to do so and not a false sense of security that comes from merely clicking a Like button or an Invitation to Connect features.
Makes a difference; at least to me. How about you?