Is this what networking feels like to you?
Okay girl, you see that guy over there? Go introduce yourself and ask him to marry you. Okay?
That is NOT networking.
Let’s talk about networking, not speed dating. Don’t ask anyone to be your mentor before you have met. Don’t ask for a job. Don’t offer to wash their car. Just ask them to lunch to discuss some things you think they can help you with.
How can you get a leader of industry to have lunch with you? Ask for their help. Leaders are usually compulsive helpers, organizers and/or control freaks. When you first call them up have a list of at least 5 things you can ask them or talk to them about. Have it beforehand because they may start talking to you on the phone or invite you right to their office.
First, what not to ask:
- Please be my mentor. That’s like asking to be married. A real mentor has to feel comfortable with you. They’ll take over the role as you go to them for advice.
- Make me a vice president, please. This is networking, not a final job interview.
- I will do anything to be your personal assistant. This question isn’t networking. It is only appropriate if you are willing to make a 100% commitment, push and push for a yes, and are willing to work for free. It is not a way to start a network. You will probably be turned down even after pushing hard for 20 minutes, but it may be worth a try. Be willing to accept a total win or becoming a leper.
Good questions to ask:
- I want to earn a job like yours, what did you do to break out from my level?
- You’ve seen a hundred guys like me, what do they really do to stand out and succeed?
- You have a panoramic perspective compared to me, what would you focus on in your career if you were me?
- You’ve seen people get education and succeed and others get education and fail. What kind of education will best serve me?
- You are the best technician I’ve heard of, what can I do differently from the average guy to get the reputation you have?
- I don’t want to manage, I just want to have my work respected like yours. How did you break out from the pack and what can I do out of the ordinary to start moving to your level?
- You know this business. I want to succeed at it, but I sometimes worry that I’m attacking it wrong. What would you do if you were me?
Do you get the idea? Compliment them by telling them what they have done better than you, then, ask them to tell you how to do the same starting at your level.
Something To Do Today
Call 3 people you want to network with and say, “I’d like to take you to lunch. Are you free one day next week?” If they ask, “Why?” then tell them, “I need some advice from someone I respect.” And be prepared to go talk with them immediately.
Tomorrow: Forget lunch. Other ways to network.
Later: Other things to say to draw them in.