Networking 101 For Women Restarting Careers
Networking is an activity that few people love, but the benefits can be so huge that I want you to give it a try. For women restarting their careers, networking can be one of the most important components of your job search. So whether you love it or you hate it, let’s give it a try! I’ll show you how. Doing more networking (aka talking to people) is one of the big lessons learned from successful career restarters.
“Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold”
If I remember correctly, that was a song we learned in Girl Scouts way back when. I’m sure at the time I didn’t realize what great advice this really is! Many people think about networking as meeting new people, and it definitely is that. But it can also be keeping in touch with the people you already know.
Nurture Your Current Network
When was the last time you touched base with the people you consider part of your network? Conventional job search advice will tell you to be constantly expanding your network – and I don’t disagree with this – but if it’s that valuable to be developing new connections, how much more valuable might it be to nurture the ones you already have?
Think about it: The people who already know you are going to be the most likely to think of you when they hear of a job opening, provide an enthusiastic referral for a job at their company, or make an introduction for you to someone they know.
Strengthen Your Network by Deepening Existing Relationships
Instead of growing your network this week, take some time to deepen your connections with people you already know. These can be your friends, neighbors, extended family, or previous colleagues. Have you told them that you’re looking for a job? If not, today is a great day to give them a call or drop them a friendly email to catch up on their lives and fill them in on yours.
This is Valuable For Women Restarting Careers Because…
I see a few distinct advantages to focusing your networking efforts on people you already know:
- Networking with friendly faces that you already know can be a real confidence booster. Once you send a few emails or have a few phone calls with friends/family/former colleagues, you’ll feel ready to grow your efforts and reach out to people you may not know as well.
- You’re going to get a good response rate if you send 5 emails to people you know inviting them to a coffee or phone call. This will energize your job search efforts! You are unlikely to experience as high a response rate when reaching out to people you don’t know, so enjoy this and channel that positive energy into doing some of the more difficult work of job search.
- People who know you well may be able to give you some good ideas about companies or positions that will be a good fit for your skill set. Your job search is going to benefit from creative ideas and new ways to approach things, so tap into this network of close friends to generate some fresh thinking.
Get Started Now On Your Networking Plan
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that your week is going to be well-spent by re-activating your current network.
Here’s how to get started:
- Make a list of 5 people you already know that you’d like to speak with.
- Send an email / text / or make a phone call to invite them to coffee or just to chat over the phone or Zoom to catch up.
- Approach each conversation with a clear goal in mind: Maybe one friend works at a company you’re interested in and you’d like to learn more about their hiring process, while another former colleague made a career pivot and you’re interested to find out how she pulled that off. If you know what you’re hoping to get out of each conversation, you’re more likely to be productive.
My last 3 pieces of advice for networking your way back to work:
- Don’t forget to ask your friends if there’s anything you can do for them. Remember, this is a give-and-take, so don’t forget to be a giver!
- And finally, send a thank you note after your call. People will do anything for someone who is appreciative of their time and effort!
- Check out the Back to Business Ultimate Guide To Returning To Work After a Career Break for more tips