Most of the people I work with as clients, and most of the people who have been laid off whom I have contact with, agree that networking is one of the really good ways to find a job. My article last month emphasized why it is useful.
That said, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief
-- because my observation is that the very people who say this and believe this don’t actually practice networking; they don’t even go through the motions when they’re on their own in a job search. In other words, they talk a good game, but never really do it. They say all the right words, but their actions aren’t consistent with what they’re telling you and me.
Why is this? Why do so many people who acknowledge that networking is a good thing, never actually get around to doing it?
I’ve been studying this phenomena for some time and here’s a random sampling of fifteen of the answers I’ve come up with:
1. They’re scared. To them, networking is equated to selling and selling equals cold calling. Fear of rejection keeps them from even trying it. This is wrong, of course, but unless they understand it, it constantly prevents them from doing it.
2. They don’t know how. For all that’s written about it, it’s a confusing subject. It’s a mystery, even though everybody talks about it.
3. They tried it once, without knowing how to do it correctly, and “burned up” the possibility of a network. Now nobody in their “network” will return their calls.
4. The process is not a 1:1 process. By this I mean, often networking appears to be a meandering path, not a straightforward one, in the same way answering a job listing or ad is straightforward. And goal-oriented people, who need short-term results, don’t get quick results from networking. This results in their getting discouraged.
5. They have the “I have to be prepared before I do it” syndrome. In other words, for one or more of the reasons I’ve already elaborated, they feel they “aren’t ready for prime time” yet and need more rehearsing, more preparation, more of something they don’t presently have – before they can actually do it.
6. They overlook the wealth of networking prospects close at hand and are always trying to find the “perfect” person to network with who will offer them a job on the spot. This is, of course, a delaying tactic.
7. They confuse networking with a pro-active broadcast letter or an e-mail campaign.
8. They have a pre-structured outlook on life that says, “You never are supposed to ask others for help.” Which automatically cuts out networking.
9. They have read too much and thought too much – and, therefore, they can tell you why networking is passé, why networking doesn’t work anymore in the new economy, why it’s over-used, why people who are employed out there are fed up with “information interviewing.” Ergo, there’s no need to do it because it will fail.
10. They operate in an internal domain (the domain of “I”) as opposed to a social domain (the domain of “We”). This ties in with their approach to the world and, consequently, networking, which is interacting with others, just doesn’t appear on their radar screens.
11. In much the same vein, they’re “macho” or “macha”. Their internal dialogue goes something like this: I need to do it all myself, in sorrow or in shame (because I don’t have a job), and therefore I won’t share it with anybody.
12. It’s unfamiliar territory. They’ve never been in it before. And, of course, that makes networking very scary.
13. They believe they’re not the “out-going” type, not “gregarious” enough, to carry it off. This is especially true of people with an engineering and IT work history background. This is a prime example of how nominalization holds people back.
14. Networking is hard work and some people don’t really like hard work. I repeat, good networking is hard work and some people don’t really like hard work. Setting up appointments and juggling people who are not in with their voice-mail, going out on interviews and scheduling one’s time, all sound like hard work and actually are hard work. Just like most regular eight-hour-a-day jobs.
15. Many people equate any structured attempt to find a job as equal to rejection when they don’t get (a) asked for an interview, (b) told of a job opportunity, or (c) receive an offer. And, because of this, they feel as if they’re constantly being rejected when they attempt to network and, therefore, they shy away from it because it’s painful.
If any of these resonate with you, dear reader, it’s obviously time to take stock