Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”?
There’s a lot of truth to that statement.
After all, the right network can open up LOTS of doors for you. The right recommendation, from the right person, at just the right time… Can be the difference between getting invited to the interview and being written off as a poor fit.
And it goes beyond just getting your foot in the door. When there’s someone there vouching for you and your competence, that door will be WIDE OPEN. They will invite you in with the implicit expectation that you’re going to rock their socks off.
This could work against you if you fail to wow them, but here’s the thing -- when the person interviewing you already has a certain view about you, they will carry that view with them into the interview process and it will taint every interaction with you.
Before you’ve even had a chance to open your mouth, an assumption has been made about you that will affect the way they hear what you then say.
I’m not here to talk about whether that’s right or wrong; it simply is. And because it just is, you can either ignore it -- and hinge the future of your career on a bet that someone will come with a GOOD pre-assumption about you…
Or you can understand and utilize the power of a good introduction, to influence that pre-assumption and make sure it’s one that stacks the odds in YOUR FAVOR.
As one of my mentors once told me once when I complained to him about office politics -- that game is being played whether or not you acknowledge it and no matter what side you align with. So isn’t it better to win?
That’s the power of a good, strong network. That’s the power of “Who you know.”
There’s this trend I see that I think needs to be called out.
I’m talking about people using the fact that they DON’T have a strong network as an excuse to not get their dream job.
“It’s all in WHO you know,” they shrug and proceed to watch Netflix and hoping that something will change in their lives. Every once in a while they get really frustrated with their situation, and they go on a resume-sending rampage. We all know how that turns out.
Then when that (obviously) doesn’t work, they sit back and go “See? I tried. But I can’t get the same results that X has gotten, because I don’t have the kinda network that she did.”
You know what? I call BS.
Did you ever try anything other than those resume-rampages? Than that spray-and-pray strategy that got you exactly where you are today, and isn’t taking you any further?
Most people have more influencers in their network than they realize (real influencers, not the instagram kind that review hair products for freebies. People with influence where it matters).
But you know what? Let’s play along with this story. Let’s say your network really is as feeble or non-existent as you say it is. Is it not possible for someone like you to BUILD UP a strong network?
Finally we get to the meat of the issue. Look, I’m not trying to be mean. I’m really saying this because I care. I care too much to be having these conversations again and again with perfectly capable people, who are literally keeping themselves in place… And why?
Simply because they can’t fathom their tomorrow being different than their today.
Do you see why this is a HUGE problem, for someone trying to break into a new field???
By definition, you’ve never done this before. By definition, this is brand new.
If you want to succeed at this -- not just do it, not just “give it a try,” but really, actually KICK SOME ASS and get that DREAM JOB that has you jumping up and doing bells with your feet… That has you using your skills and getting recognized AND compensated for them… Then you have to internalize this: everything you’ve done until now does not dictate what you do from here on out.
I know we’re getting a little fluffy here, and I promise we’ll get to the “tactics” real soon. But if you’ve been paying attention then you know that landing that dream job is like 90% mindset and 10% tactics. You need both to succeed.
Most people focus on just the 10% tactics, but without the right mindset behind them they will just not be able to IMAGINE themselves in that role they’re gunning for. And if THEY can’t imagine that, why would anyone else be able to?
So before I share with you that simple strategy for developing your network into something that can work and make life easier for you -- I need you to make sure that YOU believe it’s possible to do that. That it’s more in your hands than something that’s just handed to you.
The “Secret Weapon” for strengthening you network is… Curiosity.
Find people who are strategic for your job search. Think beyond just the CEO and the hiring manager. Think about people doing a similar role in a different compay; people who would be your colleagues if you were hired; people who used to be where you are now and are now crushing it.
Meet with them. Get them a coffee, or lunch, or whatever... And then be genuinely curious about them, their path, the choices they’ve made. Go deeper than just questions you can Google. People love to be around people who ask smart questions. And they love feeling like the expert. Give them those gifts.
And always ask for something at the end. Usually it should be “is there anyone else you know who [is doing X / in company Y / has come from background Z] that you think I should talk to and you can introduce me to?” or “can I keep you posted about what I’m doing?”
It should NEVER be “so can I have a job?”
Do this, along with following up, and you will see a DRAMATIC growth in both the size and relevance of your network… And landing those interviews where people are pre-conditioned to liking you for the job will start becoming your new normal.