Do you want to know how to grow your network fast, especially if you want to take your career in a new direction, or to new heights? Think you have to get lucky to network, or be a natural extrovert?

Many people are under the impression that networking is only for chatty extroverts who love small talk and easily manage to meet tons of people. But that’s simply not true. If you’ve had trouble building your network or leveraging your network for professional growth and actual results, this episode is for you.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • Myth-busting the top 8 networking misconceptions
  • Exactly where and how to find the most useful potential connections
  • How to grow the right network with a deliberate strategy instead of luck

Today I’m answering a question about networking. So my listener Jared writes and says, “I want to explore some different careers. But I don’t have a network or any existing connections. And there haven’t been any in person networking events recently, because of COVID. How can I get started?” So let’s talk today about how to get started building a deliberate networking strategy.

By the end of this episode, you’ll have a step by step plan that doesn’t require you to be good at small talk or be particularly extroverted. You’ll have a clear understanding of what makes for a successful and optimized strategy and how simple some of these non-negotiable steps make for effective networking connections.

In this Episode:

[1:12] Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut
[3:30] Getting clear objectives – what you want to learn and what you want to eventually land
[7:00] How to create a connections list and map – and what to do with it
[8:50] Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn to do heavy work for you
[11:20] How to understand the industry, leaders, and culture
[14:15] The balanced network – with the right level of influence on and interest in your career
[17:50] Plan, plan, plan for results.

Links and Resources:

TransforMD – a life changing retreat for women physicians who want more from their careers and their lives – it’s time, right now!

Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 74 – 8 Elements of an Effective Networking Strategy

Hey there. I’m Marjorie Stiegler and you’re listening to The Career Rx Podcast, where we tackle the important things they don’t teach you in medical school. Like how to treat your career, like the business, it really is, with strategies to accelerate the kind of success that you want, because you deserve a career you love, and a career that loves you back. Are you ready?

Let’s get into it.

Hey, there, welcome back to another episode of The Career Rx. Today I’m answering a question about networking. So my listener, Jared writes and says, I want to explore some different careers. But I don’t have a network or any existing connections. And there haven’t been any in person networking events recently, because of COVID. How can I get started?

So this is a great question. And it’s really representative of something that I hear a lot. So I do have a few different episodes that are about networking, building your network, making the right connections, and it seems like something that my audience is interested in more deep dives on. So we cover this extensively in Industry Insider, I think it’s super, super important. We also cover quite a bit in The Branding Rx to be sure that you’re putting yourself in the places where your intended network is right, whether that network is a professional network, or our client network, really, really important, and it doesn’t need to be random, and it doesn’t need to be face to face.

So let’s talk today about how to get started building a deliberate networking strategy.

You know, a lot of people think about networking as a really crowded sort of in person event, which is happening at a conference or something over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. And in my mind, that’s really not a very effective networking opportunity. I mean, it’s just so much is left to chance, you don’t know who’s going to be there, which can be fine. And you don’t know if you’ll meet the people you want to meet, which also can be fine for serendipity. But it’s not really a deliberate strategy.

The other thing is, it’s a little bit of a misconception, I believe, that the goal of networking is to meet as many people as possible. In my view, especially for people who have a particular career goal in mind, the goal is not to meet as many people as possible, it’s to meet the right people. And we’ll get into what I mean by that here. And then a third misconception that I think holds a lot of people back is that they feel like they are, they’re not particularly extroverted, or they’re not especially good at small talk. And while that’s a little bit tangential to what we’re going to cover today, I hope that you’ll see from this deliberate network strategy that I’m going to lay out for you that you do not need to be good at small talk or be particularly extroverted to succeed with this kind of a plan.

So I’m going to lay out a series of steps that you should set up today, really, and deploy in order to build the right network that will help you to achieve your goals. And it does not require any face to face events, doesn’t require major networking events that are put on by someone else, it certainly does not require meeting as many people as possible, or a bunch of extroverted small talk.

Okay, here’s how to do it.

Step number one is to consider your objective and get very, very clear on that. So this is an actual outreach to anybody. But this is the work you’re going to want to do in advance, where you become very clear, in your own mind, what you’re hoping to achieve from your networking activities. There are sort of two big buckets of activities.

One is to learn something right to learn something new about an industry about some type of a job, really to acquire information.

And the other one is to land, to land an opportunity to land a new job, to land a speaking invitation to otherwise, you know, sort of get something and there’s those are big, broad buckets, so you can fill in the blank there.

But I think those two objectives are often under-appreciated because the purpose in meeting people is, you know, not for them to get you a job or not for them to give you an opportunity. That’s almost never what’s going to happen first. The important thing is to develop a relationship. So you do want to be mindful that you’re developing relationships with people who will be in a position to help you land those opportunities. And you also most likely need to develop relationships with people that will help you learn about either the companies, the jobs, the skills, you know, what the pros and cons, what’s it like to do the kind of thing that you’re seeking?

What would be helpful for you to know in your exploratory phase, what kinds of strengths and weaknesses do they think are relevant to the kind of work when there’s all kinds of things that you may need to learn. And in order to have, you know, compelling connections with people who can help you to land something, or even really, frankly, to put together a decent resume and cover letter, there’s probably a fair amount that you need to learn about the opportunities that you are considering.

And for many of my listeners, I know you guys are in an early exploratory phase around different leadership opportunities, or non clinical career transitions. And I can tell from the messages that I get, and the comments that I see in public forums, that a lot of it is sort of a mysterious black box, you don’t really know what the job that we’re talking about entail? So people are asking really the wrong questions, maybe putting the cart before the horse and, you know, how do I get a job as a, you know, XYZ? How do I get a job in industry ABC, without really understanding what that would be like on the day to day, and that’s really much more important. So get clear on your objectives, then you may have to and that’s fine. What do you need to learn? And what do you eventually hope to land?

Okay, step number two, make a list of people that you hope to engage with and network with this sounds almost, you know, like it should go without saying except for that it doesn’t. A lot of people leave this up to chance. And they just say, Well, I don’t happen to know anybody. But the way to get to know someone is to establish a set of targets, right. So make a list of the people that you want to get to know. Now today, while you’re listening, you might not have actual names in mind. But you probably have enough descriptors to be able to say, you know, I’d like to meet someone who works in such and such a role at such and such a company.

So even if you don’t have specific names, you can begin to make a list based on role or experience. And then you can do the work to find out which people with actual names and actual companies might satisfy those things, you’ve got to have a list, you don’t want to leave this to random chance, you do want to take that time again, based on what you hope to learn and what you hope to learn to come up with a specific list of people, obviously, you won’t be able to connect with everybody that you want to connect with. And not everybody is going to get back to you. But some people will. So you’ve got to have a thoughtful, deliberate list.

Okay, step three, is to begin to create a map. Now, this should be iterative, just like your list, right? You build your map, you’ll continue to build your map, you’ll continue to build your list over time. But your map is just sort of a visual representation of you. And the people that you know, and the people that you want to know, it’s always great if you can get a personal introduction, this really increases the likelihood of somebody responding to you. But you’re not always going to have that. And that’s okay. It’s still very helpful to begin having that map.

And once you begin to connect with people, one of the things you’ll want to do is ask them who else you should know. So you’ll want this map and you’ll want to understand the relationships between people that you do know, and people that you hope to know, even if today It doesn’t feel like there are any connections like that at all there will be as you begin to build out your network. So important to sort of create that map and, and understand the relationships among the people that you are seeking to know or that you know, already.

Okay, number four, get on LinkedIn and get LinkedIn thoroughly set up, this was a little bit outside of the scope of this podcast to really go into everything that that means and to make sure that it’s truly optimized. But without a doubt, LinkedIn is the goldmine platform for this kind of professional networking. So get yourself on there with your fully built out profile, that’s got to include the things that are likely to help you identify connections that you don’t know you have, or to identify, you know, one or two degrees away from a connection, it’s going to help you with that map. So you’ve got to put in your employment, make sure that you put in any organizations that you volunteer for, make sure you include your school.

And think about importing, you know your contacts and looking up people who might be neighbors, other people in your community, perhaps the parents of your kids friends, however, it is that you can begin to connect with people on LinkedIn, even if they’re not currently part of your professional relationship. They are going to do so much of the work for you the profile is the LinkedIn platform is to suggest to you people that you know, or when you begin to look at your list and you think about your map.

LinkedIn will show you some shortcuts of how you do actually know somebody even if not all that, well if they’re someone who lives in your neighborhood or somebody that you know, you know from again, a kids activity or or something else, where you will realize hey, they work at this company and although Maybe not in the functional area that you’re interested in, they could probably make a recommendation or a connection. Sometimes those loose connections and sort of indirect connections will really be quite fruitful. So make sure that you do that, get that completely set up, it will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Number five, use the internet to do some research. use the internet to figure out who these people are that belong on your list. And in your map. If you don’t have ideas about that, today, you’ll want to think about your targets, right? What you want to learn what you want to land, what is the industry? What are some of the prominent companies, if you don’t know any people, you should at least know those few things.

And then do some Google searches to understand, you know, what are the professional organizations or societies that are relevant in that industry, and check their websites, because you’ll see lists of committees and boards of directors, advisors, employees, all kinds of people. So connect with that organization on LinkedIn, but also scour those websites and add those things to your list.

Similarly, you should be getting familiar with the kinds of media that are out there talking about topics relevant to what you intend to learn or what you intend to land. So this might be publications, newsletters, you know, websites that put up, you know, daily or weekly digest and sort of that curate the relevant news and trends in the industry, it might be podcasts. So take a look.

And not only at these websites, and podcasts and blogs and things, but you know, less about the people who are doing the writing themselves. If those people are just professional writers or editors, and more about the people they’re writing about, right? Who are they talking about? Or who are they interviewing, that might represent an important target, so I help you populate your list. And listen, just because these people are, you know, sort of big time enough that they’re being interviewed and featured in these kind of media or that they have a high level role within a professional organization or society, this does not make them on attainable for you, if anything, it might make them more attainable, because it goes to show that they have at least some committed interest in sharing what they know.

Okay, number six, remember that this is all about deliberate networking strategy, and not just, you know, throwing darts at the wall. So number six is to consider the other person’s influence on and interest in your career goals. So this is really important, because you can imagine sort of four quadrants, right of a person that has either low or high influence on helping you.

They either know a lot about what you want to learn, or they’re in a position to help you to land what you hope to land. So they have, you know, a variable amount of influence, and also a variable amount of interest, they might have low, low interest in your career, they might have very high interest in your career. Some people who have very high interest in you and your success, also have, though pretty low influence.

So all of these are fine. And I recommend that you have a balance, but just keep this in mind, you do want to have people who are very interested in you, even if they have low influence today, you never know when they might make a new connection or when their circumstances might change. And it might become much more relevant suddenly, now they do have influence. So if you have people who are especially interested, make sure that you’re cultivating that.

But also make sure that you are establishing again, deliberate relationships with people who have high levels of influence and can really help you. It’s okay, obviously, when you start out meeting these people, their level of interest in you is going to be low to moderate, there are some things you can do to try to boost that, right and to increase the likelihood of a yes, that they’ll meet with you. And to increase the likelihood that they’ll continue to be interested in you over time.

But very, very important to have a balance on your list. And in your map that’s very deliberate about people have to have some amount of influence and some amount of interest. And you don’t need to focus all of your area on only high interest, high influence. I think it is important to have a balance, but just keep that as part of the equation as you’re building out your deliberate networking strategy.

Okay, number seven, be consistent. Again, not rocket science, but almost no one does this. This truly is one of the sort of make or break differentiators between people who are really successful at networking their way into new opportunities and new industries versus people who are not. So get out your calendar and put 15 minutes every single week of completely non-negotiable time. It’s just 15 minutes, you can do more, and we probably should do more.

But if you ask Literally commit every single week without fail consistently over time, you will spend 15 minutes on some activity that we’ve already talked about. Right, then you will have some success. This is consistent, thorough, it’ll make sure that you continue to grow your list, continue to think about your map, continue to update and check on LinkedIn, continue to have the time to do the homework there on all of these various internet sources, continue to make sure that you have a good balance of people who have influenced interest and refine your objectives. As you learn more, you may decide you want to learn something different, or you may decide you want to learn more about something else.

So this is entirely iterative. It is a long term goal. It’s absolutely not about small talk or asking for a job. But the opportunities come from these kinds of activities. And they really come from the consistency. So again, just a small amount of time, every single week, completely non negotiable, do not break this appointment with yourself. And just work on this. Some of it will be on you sort of create the strategy and the map that we’re talking about. And some of it will be actual outreach. Some of it will be perhaps actual conversations with people that you’ve connected with. I don’t care how you spend that time, but do something that time that is part of this deliberate strategy.

And I’m not talking about just, you know, hanging out in social media groups and things like that I’m talking about this particular specific strategy. I know you can find those few minutes a week. So do it, do it without fail, do it every single week with consistency and you will get results.

And then finally, the 8th step is to plan carefully plan, the outreach, plan the engagement, right, assuming that they say yes to you plan, the phone call or the meetup, whatever it’s going to be, so that you make really good use of that time. and plan your ending. And your follow up.

These sounds so simple. But again, so many people fail to do these. And this is really where the magic is, you know, according to LinkedIn, I read ones that about one in eight, cold outreaches will be answered. So that’s not terrible. one in eight people will respond to you, they’re even more likely to respond to you if they can see that you have shared mutual connections by LinkedIn is so great. Of course, they’re more likely to respond to you.

If you have an actual person making an introduction kind of greasing that wheel for you. That’s really super. And there are a variety of other things that make someone more likely to respond to you, including the sort of the specificity and the tone of your outrage.

So make sure that you plan very thoughtfully how you intend to approach that person. And then if you’re fortunate enough to get that Yes. What are you going to do with that time to really maximize it, to get yourself closer to learning or landing what it is that’s your objective, and make sure that it doesn’t just fizzle out, because networking is about relationship building.And it should go on in time.

Now, this person is not going to be someone, necessarily, that you touch base with on a weekly basis, or that you speak to very frequently. But be sure that you have a plan for follow up. And for what to do to sort of keep that relationship nurtured and alive over time.

This is how networking actually gives you results. It’s not about meeting as many people as possible. It’s definitely not about meeting just a bunch of random people. And it’s not about small talk or being chatty and extroverted. It’s about being very methodical, and deliberate about who you need to meet, for what purpose, then going about meeting them in a way that’s very likely to get you a favorable response, and then making the most use of that time, so that you continue to have a relationship that will yield benefits towards your objective from then and into the future. So now you know how to do it.

Even if you don’t know anybody today, it’s absolutely possible to build a robust and effective network in any industry or any professional circle that you choose, just by following a few thoughtful and deliberate steps to get it set up. So put the time on your calendar and get started with these today. Bye for now.

Before you go, please review, share and subscribe to this podcast. Your support makes all the difference and it truly helps this information reach someone who may really need it. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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