VOL. 129 | NO. 81 | Friday, April 25, 2014
Relationship Building Blocks
By Angela Copeland
When you’re working to turn over a new leaf in your career, you start with the basics: an updated resume, a catchy cover letter, new business cards and a fresh LinkedIn profile. These pieces are requirements of your search, but they’re not where the important work happens. The foundation of a long-term career is built on networking.
Alan Collins, author of “Unwritten HR Rules” once said, “Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time.”
He’s right. Your network won’t create itself. Try things like going to networking events, volunteering in the community and having lunch with those you’d like to know better. It can be hard to balance these activities with your personal responsibilities. Unfortunately, there are few alternatives to spending the time to make solid connections.
In addition to showing up, it’s important you’re sincere in your interactions. If you’re only networking for completely selfish reasons, people will see through it. Think about how you might add value to those around you. Building a new relationship is a two-way street. You’ve got to give something in order to attract new contacts.
The last and most important thing to remember is that creating relationships and building your network takes time. I often speak with job seekers who expect to find an opportunity almost overnight. It’s not long before they hit a dead end and are left frustrated. They’re surprised at how much work finding a new job really is. Truth be told, finding any job isn’t terribly difficult. But, finding the right job takes work.
While living in California, I found a dream job in Memphis I wanted. I convinced the hiring manager to have lunch with me when I was in town visiting friends. I went back with no job, but kept in touch. I sent the hiring manager a friendly email once a month. Six months or so later, I moved to Memphis for another job and a year after that, the dream job hiring manager called and to ask me to have a coffee. Inside the coffee shop, the he offered me a job – without even interviewing this time around.
The entire process to land that dream job took about two years. Two years seems like a long time on the surface, but it’s not that long to build a relationship and for someone to really get to know you. As you can guess, I didn’t focus on networking only with this hiring manager. I was networking with a number of people at the same time. But, this one paid off and the dream job was mine.
Having the ability to be patient and persistent at the same time is worth a lot. It’s important not to take it too personally when you aren’t hired after the first interview, or when the hiring manager is too busy to respond to your email. Taking your next career step is more about building relationships than it is about building your resume. It takes time, effort and honesty.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).