How to Network When You Hate Networking
This article is part of our Post Grad Survival Guide that we’ll be rolling out this summer. Join our email list to follow along all summer and email email@example.com if you’d like to guest write.
Anyone who’s opened LinkedIn for one second knows that networking is the goddam worst. But at the risk of sounding like Gary V, networking and hustling are absolutely essential to advancing your career. And let’s be honest – no one reading this blog has any technical skills or “talent.” If you think that you’ll get a job you actually want by filling out a job application online, you’re absolutely nuts.
Let’s get into some practical tips so you can network your little ass to the top of the corporate food chain.
How to Network When You Hate Networking
Step 1: Get Over It
I get it. There is something about networking that feels really gross and weird. Every networking email I send feels completely humiliating, grovelly and makes me want to gouge my eyes out.
“Hello person I vaguely know! It would mean the absolute world to have a mere morsel your time to help me get my dream job. I beg you good sir just a 15 minute phone call.”
It sucks, but you have to change your mindset and be ready to do it. Things don’t just happen in life. You have to make them happen. And
The important thing to remember about networking is most people want to help you. I know you feel like you’re being annoying (you’re not) or taking time out of someone’s busy day (you kind of are, but thank them for it) but assuming they’re not an asshole, most people really don’t mind talking to you.
People remember what it feels like when they started out and on top of that, it actually feels good to help someone else. Even if you’re dealing with a soul-less monster, most companies give employees a referral bonus if they recommend someone who gets hired, so you’re actually helping them get rich as fuck when you think about it.
Step 2: Know What You Want Out of the Interaction
So, assuming most people want to help you, now you have to figure out how they can actually do that.
Generally, there are two different types of networking, with different goals.
Same Level as You
Most likely a friend, co-worker, or some level of familiar acquaintance, this is someone in the same boat as you. You’re in similar industries, have similar career aspirations, and generally are in the same position in your companies. It’s the least formal, but most important and over-looked type of networking that honestly doesn’t even feel like ‘networking.’
These people are going to be your future collaborators, teammates, and allies one day. And honestly, these are the people who will actually help you in your career and get you a job – not some high up VP who has no idea how things actually operate. Too often, people get hung up with climbing the ladder or connecting with the most important person possible, when they should be focusing on building their network of peers. Your dad’s golf buddy that’s the MD at a firm is going to retire in 3 years anyways and if you put all your eggs in that basket, you’re shit out of luck.
With this interaction, you should mainly be looking to strengthen your relationship, but also learning about any openings in the industry or types of . And yes, you can also be friends with someone and want to network with them.
In a Spot You Want to be At
Maybe you’re trying to do a career pivot. Maybe your friend’s mom is the VP at an important company and offered to talk to you after you met at their wedding. Maybe it’s just someone you want to high school who has a job at the company you’ve always wanted to work for. The point is, this person is in a position you’d like to be in one day and is doing you a favor by talking to you. Acknowledge that and thank them, but don’t be all weird and gushy about it.
With this interaction, there’s a lot of different ways you can go with it. Asking for advice or hearing about their career path is always a safe route (especially because people love to talk about themselves.) I wouldn’t necessarily ask them for a job, but I’d definitely ask them if they can connect you to someone else at their company or in their industry. You can also ask them how much they make on an annual basis before taxes and they’ll either think it’s funny or blackball you from the industry forever. Probably not worth it but could be cool.
This kind of networking can be tricky. There’s a shot that you land your dream job, but most likely, it ends up leading to nothing tangible. That’s ok. You still got some more information and planted a seed for the future.
Step 3: Be Prepared
The last thing you probably want to do after work is more work, but preparation is essential when it comes to networking.
Before you meet with someone new, do research on them. Check out their LinkedIn and career path. Look on their company website and for any news articles about their business. See if you can find their home online so you can figure out how much they make without having to ask them in person.
Then, figure your own shit out. Update your resume or your portfolio so if they ask you for it, you have it prepared. LinkedIn is the fucking worst, but make sure yours is updated since they’ll most likely check you out before or after your conversation.
Most importantly, write down some questions and think about how you want to frame your own story. It takes 1-2 hours of work and let’s be honest, you’re just watching Love Island anyways. Casa Amor will be there tomorrow and it’ll be just as explosive.
Step 4: Stay in Touch
Networking is a little bit like the early stages of talking to someone romantically. If you haven’t heard from them for a bit, you want to find a reason to reach out in a way that feels natural but is 100% planned out days in advance. They know exactly what you’re doing, but if they like you, they’ll be fine with it.
Of course, no one likes an annoying piece of shit, but you do want to make sure the person who could change your career remembers doesn’t completely forget who you are. Find reasons to follow up and stay in touch on a consistent basis. Not everyone will be a long-term connection, but you owe it to yourself to try.