If you research thousands of articles online about networking challenges for work, you’ll find that 100% of them offer advice on how to “build” a network from a relatively junior professional. .
Surprisingly, however, there is little advice that can be offered to senior administrators who are going through a different but equally difficult set of hurdles to build a network. This is a problem. Because knowing how to get the most out of the network is crucial for the person at the top of the pyramid, especially during a period of high turnover in his CEO. record high.
We have decades of experience working with and researching senior managers looking to make career changes. This article identifies six common hurdles they often struggle with when it comes to career networking, and provides guidance on how to overcome them.
1) Reluctance to ask for help
Networking for your next role means asking for help. Research in social psychology People in high positions tend to feel pressured to maintain an image of strength and competence, and to value their independence, all of which can make them reluctant to seek help. Masu. They fear rejection and worry that seeking help may expose perceived weaknesses and damage their status, position, or reputation. This is an ego-driven passive attitude that we see all too often. One of Herminia’s students said: “I give help. I don’t ask for help.”
One way to avoid this trend, which is natural, is to use low-risk (and low-revenue) contacts, ideally executives who know you well and have built their own network, And you can share not only how you asked others for help, but what you got out of it.
You can probably do this to more people than you think.As Stanford University social psychologist Xuan Zhao discovered, people regularly underestimate Because they don’t realize how happy other people are to do so. Low-risk warm-up and rehearsal exercises, “hearing the dreaded words coming out of your mouth,” as Spish puts it, help you fine-tune your message, soften your emotions, and experience success. And having a few positive experiences makes the more difficult calls and emails easier.
Senior executives are more likely to keep secrets, especially if they are fired. For example, one of her Spish customers asked: I want to reach out to people, but I don’t want them to know I’m interested in what I’m looking for. ”
Such worries limit our exposure to others, but are themselves a problem. However, when it comes to networking and job hunting, secrecy can be forced. According to Herminia’s research, this process often takes much longer than people expect. Carrying the burden of confidentiality over an extended period of time can take a toll on your mental health.
Limiting your exposure to others can be especially harmful if it prevents you from stepping back and broadly exploring what you really want to do next. You can’t fool people with obfuscation, no matter how hard you try. At the advanced level, the world is small. The person you’re talking to can probably find out what you’re up to just by calling a source in their network or searching online. Even if you succeed in hiding your story, it will take a lot of nerves and energy to get the same results that you would get by speaking honestly and directly. Honesty is the best policy, with rare exceptions.
3) unrealistic expectations
Reluctant to ask for help and unwilling to let others know they’re looking for a new role, senior executives typically want to complete networking quickly. Or they simply think they’re advanced so the process won’t take them long. Unfortunately, the more advanced you are, the more time you can spend finding and adjusting the right fit. In Spish’s experience, the shortest search takes about three months, and the longest he can take as long as 18 months.
Effective networking not only takes a long time, it also requires a lot of effort, stamina, efficiency and perseverance. There are three main reasons for this.
First, as we both found, very few people looking for their next job know exactly which small number of companies they want to work for. They don’t know enough about the market or what they really want to do a targeted search, so they have to start with research and very general exploratory networking. It all takes time.
Second, you may not actually get what you want and what works best for you. We’ve both seen highly qualified and experienced people spend excruciatingly long hours finding their next role. ○One executive Harminia recently observed thought he was an ideal candidate for the audit committee of a large company’s board of directors given his past experience, but his selection criteria included a more diverse professional profile. So changed that he realized he was waiting for a nod.
Third, most companies today employ elaborate, slow and unpredictable screening processes, often taking months in the final stages of the hiring process.
It helps to recognize that the senior management job market is surprisingly uncontrollable amidst the supply and demand turmoil. A good proactive tactic to compensate for that when networking is to fill your calendar with exciting parallel activities (community activities, free consulting, short-term advice, part-time education). You will get instant results and a more satisfying response. This makes up for the tedious if not burdensome task of waiting for help. It also gives a battered ego a positive, albeit temporary, identity.
4) I don’t want to work
Accustomed to having things done for them, executives often hesitate to spend time on tedious tasks that cannot be delegated. But for networking to be successful, the task must be treated as something worth spending time and energy on, and it must be done systematically and systematically.
To help with this, Spish has developed a networking process that consists of identifying and reaching out to three types of contacts: informants, door openers, and decision makers. Informants are people who tell us about markets, companies, and hiring trends. It will help you get smarter and overcome your fear of networking. Door openers are usually people you have worked with in the past. They respond quickly, know you and your work style, and are happy to vouch for you and introduce you to decision makers.
If you want to use this process, the best way to start is by first making a list of all your employers, customers, and customers, then writing down the names of the people you meet in those roles. You could easily come up with 100 names.
Whatever approach you use to organize, target, and segment your searches, start by building a long list of people you’ve always worked with and methodically following a system for reaching out to them. is needed. It’s a learning process, so you can’t plan everything in advance. You’re better off taking the “snowball approach” of asking each contact who else they should meet with. This is especially true when looking at unfamiliar markets. In that case, you need to build your network in what Spish calls the “valley under the cloud.” Opportunities abound in these valleys, but they are unfamiliar places and require exploration. Not exploring them can limit your options and negatively impact your career growth.
It’s a high-cost, high-return game, but it’s worth it. Spish found that reaching out to more than 50 of his contacts on the list allowed the network to initiate contact, at which point the process could continue.
5) Too much focus on the “story”
What you say when you get in touch is important. Executives often spend the majority of networking conversations small talk about shared contacts and experiences without getting to the bottom of the conversation (that you need a new job) by the end of the conversation. This is especially common when you feel the need to hide the reality of what’s going on, for example, that you’re not getting along with your boss or that you’ve been fired. Often when this happens, they are already defensively entering into conversations or dodging, spending their energy protecting their public image instead of learning as much as they can. As a result, they end up wasting themselves and their contacts a lot of time.
Another unproductive practice is spending 80% of your time explaining why you’re unhappy, why you quit, or why you were fired. This is a passive approach that locks the conversation into the past when it should be a positive, future-focused conversation. It’s much better to spend 20% of your allotted time explaining your situation and the other 80% focusing on what you’re looking for.
Best practices for networking conversations are to be direct, concise, and positive. People want to know why you’re calling and what you want from them. Also, the more advanced the person is, the more likely they are to expect a brief gist, such as: you. this is what i want from you I hope you have enough content for a 10 minute conversation on these two points. ”
6) Unable to customize stories
Executives considering a transition often spend countless hours perfecting a single script: the legendary “elevator pitch” of “core skills and competencies.” They do this under the assumption that this script will give them universal relevance, but what they end up with is mostly satisfactorily tailored to the recipient’s needs. not.
We’ve seen many executives try to approach networking the same way they would when working with a headhunter. They write a generic email that just changes their name and a sentence or two of him, attach their resume, and send it out to a bunch of employees. people. Likewise, many people go to meetings and robotically he states a one-minute pitch even if it doesn’t fit the unique situation or requirements of the person listening.
It doesn’t work. Yes, it’s important to understand the core storyline (Who am I and why am I here?). But I can’t imagine saying the same thing about myself to everyone I meet. Nor can you assume that every listener can translate your pitch into the context of their own business.
Finally, remember: it’s not about you. If you want to win the role that really suits you, you need to find a way to switch from talking about yourself to talking knowledgeably about the company and its issues. And you need to clearly communicate what you are capable of. solve those problems. As Spish discovered, doing so creates opportunities for yourself. Most of the top executives he coached ended up moving into roles that didn’t even exist before the conversation.
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If you are a senior executive, networking is a delicate, complex and time-consuming task. Your ego and impatience will hinder your success. The best approach is to think of networking as an opportunity to strengthen or deepen the relationships you already have, rather than just scouting for your next role. Even better, view it as an opportunity to add new relationships that will help you become a better professional at your new job. A job followed by another job.