It's easy for me to sit here and just say “make it about them,” but that doesn't provide a ton of clarity on how you should execute these ideas.
When I was a starting my career, I always got frustrated by the fact that everyone and their cousin would tell me I needed to learn how to network, but no one would show me how to go out and do it.
That changes now! Here are 4 networking tips that are highly actionable and easy to implement so you can get started on this today:
One of the easiest ways to make your outreach about the other person is to comment on something that's happened in their career.
This could be a transition to a new industry, the fact that this person worked at a company that you used to (or currently) work at, or a project this person is working on that you're aware of based on your research. Showing them you did your research and positioning them as the expert goes a long way!
For example, let's say you want to work in advertising at Microsoft and you come across my LinkedIn profile. You see that I made the transition from the healthcare industry into digital marketing so you decide to lead with that. Here's an email you might write:
Networking Email Template: Career Changes
Subject: Your transition from healthcare
I hope you're having a great week! My name is [Your Name] and I found your LinkedIn profile while I was looking for people who made the transition into tech from a non-traditional background. Your experience moving from healthcare to Microsoft was really impressive.
I know this is a big ask coming from a stranger, but I'd be incredibly grateful for the chance to ask you a few questions about that transition. It could be over the phone or via email, whatever is easy for you.
Again, I know this is a big ask coming from a stranger so I totally understand if you don't have time. Either way, I'm wishing you the best and hope you have a great week!
Boom! See how we made that email about me? We mentioned the transition showing that we did our research and we acknowledged that this was a big ask in a cold email, taking the pressure off.
That kind of email goes a long way and will help boost your response rates as you're learning how to network.
We've talked about “making it about them” and “adding value.” One of the easiest ways to kick off a relationship this way is by supporting your contact on social media!
Now, not every person is going to be active on social media, so expect that up front. But if your contact is someone who is professionally active on a site like LinkedIn or Twitter, then you can leverage that to your advantage!
By way of example, let's say you want a Product Manager role at Amazon and you come across John Marty's profile:
If you look through John's activity, you can see he posts quite a bit. Looking at his posts, I see that they get hundreds of reactions, but far fewer comments. This is a big opportunity!
If I take the time to read through John's post and leave a thoughtful comment, I can really stand out!
Now, I bolded thoughtful for a reason. Comments like “great tips” or “love this” are positive, but they don't usually stand out.
Instead, I'm going to read John's post and use an improv technique called “Yes, And” which essentially means that you support the post with your “yes” and then you build onto it with your “and”
For example, John's last post is about “failing better.” You could plus one this idea and then add your own personal anecdote or story in a comment! This adds value and a new perspective to the conversation which will do two things:
1It will get you on John's radar in a positive way
2It will likely attract the attention of other people viewing the post who will like your comment or reply to it
Now you can rinse and repeat a few times each week. Every time you leave that thoughtful, positive comment on John's post, you add a layer to your relationship. After doing this for a few weeks, you can safely make an ask for a longer conversation knowing that you won't be viewed as a total stranger, but as someone who's supported John's posts for several weeks.
That's a great place to have an initial conversation and it'll boost your chances of getting a yes!
Pro Tip: If you want to find people at your target companies who are active, head to LinkedIn and run a search for your target job title. Next, click “Content” from the sub tab menu. Finally, go to “All Filters” and add your target companies to the “Add Author's Company” filter.
The “Poster Boy” I absolutely love it because it plays into a major psychological predisposition that we have as people — we want to feel valued.
The “Poster Boy” formula is incredibly simple and it's especially effective with people who are harder to reach because of their audience or their status. Regardless of someone's “influencer status,” people are always looking for and appreciating testimonials. If you can be their Poster Boy/Girl/Person, you can fast track your way onto their radar. Here's how it works:
First, identify an idea or a strategy that this person has shared. It could be something they posted on LinkedIn, something they shared in an article, on a podcast, etc.
Next, go take action on that strategy and work until you get results. Results are absolutely critical here because that is what's going to make you stand out!
Then, when you have those results, send an email to that person sharing a full breakdown of the advice you took and the results you got.
Back in 2019, I'd been listening to their episodes and applying their advice for 6+ months. I'd been working to get the results I could use to stand out. I compiled all of my results into an email and sent it off. Here's a snippet from that note:
The result? A reply from the guys that said, “they love to see action like this” and a request to feature my story as a case study. Seriously, they asked me if it would be ok to feature me on their site. Check it out:
A few months later, I was hopping on a 30 minute Zoom call with Eric to share feedback on a new tool he was launching.
The Poster Boy formula is super effective because people, especially mentors, want to invest in other people who they see potential in. By taking action and getting results, you're proving that you're somebody worth investing in.
When it comes to networking, many people struggle with starting the conversation, but it's even harder to know what to say after the first interaction. That's where the Advice Triangle comes into play.
The Advice Triangle is a strategy that will help you get in the door with almost anyone and it will help you continue the conversation as you build the relationship:
The Advice Triangle is a 3 step framework that you can leverage to start a relationship, during a conversation with a connection, or as a follow up. Here's how it works:
1Ask your contact for specific, actionable advice (give them two options to choose from)
2Go take action on that advice and get results / take note of learnings
3Follow up with your contact sharing that you took action on their advice, share your results / learnings, and then ask for more advice
This creates a cycle. You ask for advice, you take action, and then you ask for more advice!
The reason this works so well is because of the benefits you get with that follow up. When you show someone the results of taking their advice, they realize a few things.
First, they feel valued because someone actually took their advice. Second, you illustrate that you're the type of person to roll up your sleeves and take action. That means the next piece of advice is likely going to be deeper, better than the first piece.
You're building the relationship with each follow up!
There you have it! I hope this guide provided an actionable foundation for you to build off of as you start learning how to network the right way.
To be clear, this guide barely scratches the surface. Networking is more of an art than a science, and the best relationship builders are constantly experimenting and testing with ways to better connect with more people.
In summary, here's what I want you to remember as you embark on your networking journey:
1Always make your initial message about the person you're trying to connect with
2Add as much value as you possibly can up front – the more you add, the more you'll get in return
3Relationships are a game of small, consistent layers – they're not formed overnight
If you remember those guidelines as you work to connect with people who can elevate your game and change your life, you'll become a networking master in no time!
Visit www.rapidezwriter.com for more advice. Also check our expert services.
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