Your network is composed of all the people that you know, whether it’s your father, your best friend, an acquaintance from the gym that follows you on Instagram or a colleague. And each of these people knows a multitude of other people. Despite frequent misconceptions about networking, research shows that networking is extremely valuable to one’s career, regardless of your field or level. So then, why does it feel so hard to do, or inauthentic? We will explore that concern and more below.
Some examples of network benefits include:
Today, we’ll talk about how the holidays are a profitable moment to nurture and make use of your connections, or your “network”.
We’ve all felt uneasy and icky as we’re about to ask for a favor. It mostly comes from the sensation that we are ‘using’ others and it feels immoral. So what can you do?
First, reframe your efforts as a getting-to-know-each-other instead of some transactional-driven effort. Second, find substantive shared interests. “It will feel more authentic and meaningful”, says Pr. Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist who has investigated the effects of networking. Third, she suggests to “think of what you can offer, not just what you can get”. Networking doesn’t have (and shouldn’t!) be one-sided so that’s an important point. So think: what can you bring to the table?
Because people take a break from work and focus on celebrations, getting together and relaxation. They might be more disposed to listen, share and help.
For relatives who don’t often see each other, holidays are the time to catch up, which naturally sets the stage for you to expose your situation and goals.
Last, and contrary to what people might assume, the holidays are, in fact, a strategic time for job applicants. Yes, hiring managers often take a break… But who else does? Candidates. Meanwhile, recruiters are busy as ever. So stay on course and redouble your efforts!
Since your network consists of everyone in your life, it includes those you may never guess could help your career. How many relatives and friends do you have who you don’t actually know what they do for work? Often we have connections that CAN help and want to, as long as they know what your goals are. One way to start this conversation is to ask them what they do for work. A simple intro, such as “You know Uncle <name>, I would love to know more about what you do for work as I realized I have never asked.”
When should you have these conversations?
To start with, do not wait until you are desperate. Your efforts might even be counter-productive (Sonnenberg, 1990). You rarely reap benefits with someone you’ve just met. It’s the people who know us and like us who will help us.
Then, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be every month. It can be twice or once a year. By having regular contact it won’t feel so uneasy when you ask for help and they might even spontaneously reach out. What matters: be genuine. Ask what they are up to and give a little update about yourself. Tell them what you are up to and signal how they could help, e.g. “I’m currently looking for an entry-level job in HR in Berlin. Any lead would be appreciated”.
Finally, don’t forget to express gratitude. When someone offers a referral or introduction, be sure to follow up with a sincere thank you so they will be motivated to help in the future also.
Wanna know more about who Lisa is and her mission? Check out this post!
Casciaro, T., Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. (2014). The contaminating effects of building instrumental ties: How networking can make us feel dirty. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(4), 705-735. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0001839214554990
Casciaro, T., Gino, F., & Kouchaki, M. (2016). Managing Yourself–Learn to Love Networking. Harvard Business Review, 94(5), 104-107. http://tashfeen.pbworks.com/f/Networking%20-%20HBR%20-%20May%202016.pdf
Heilmann C. (August 30, 2021). Truth About Recruiting During the Holiday Season. IAAC. https://www.iacareercoaches.org/truth-about-recruiting-during-the-holiday-season/
Ibarra, H. (April 16, 2018). 5 Misconceptions About Networking. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/04/5-misconceptions-about-networking
Sonnenberg, F. K. (1990). How to reap the benefits of networking. Journal of Business Strategy. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb039352