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The True Goal of Networking

You’ve probably heard the expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” When it comes to finding a job, that adage certainly holds true: according to a recent survey, 96% of positions are filled by candidates who came to the employer through referrals or introductions! As a result, it’s not surprising that most people believe they need to network in order to get a job. Unfortunately, they frequently conflate the two and believe that ‘networking’ is synonymous with ‘finding a job.’ But here’s a little secret for you:

The purpose of networking is not to find work.

So, the next time you attend a networking event, don’t go expecting to meet someone who can or wants to hire you. That will set you up for failure, and you will be less likely to attend another networking event as a result. Keep in mind that the goal of networking is to expand your network.

Make your goal more specific if you attend an event: “I want to talk to 5 people who can give me insights into my chosen career.” Or, “I’d like to get 5 referrals for people who aren’t attending this event.” Those are goals and outcomes that you can completely control, making them more attainable. You will have the opportunity to discuss your career goals and highlight your accomplishments while pursuing those objectives.

However, DO NOT inquire about open positions at your partner’s company.

If the person you speak with is aware of any positions for which you might be qualified, AND if they like you and what you’ve said, they will most likely volunteer that information. Don’t put them in the uncomfortable position of having to say ‘no.’ Nobody enjoys saying “no.” Put them in a position to assist and say ‘yes.’ Inquire about ‘who else should I speak with to educate myself on this topic?’ or ‘who, in your opinion, is the most knowledgeable in this field?’ These questions will make your contact feel knowledgeable while also assisting you in expanding your network.

So keep building your network, and job opportunities will appear!