“You must always be providing value to your network”.
Every time you hear this your eyes begin to roll.
You scratch your head wondering “What do all these career professionals mean when they say ‘Add value to your network?’ How the heck do I do that?”
I understand it’s a tough one.
Most of us do not network effectively, even though you know it’s the single most important strategy in your job search.
90% of large sector Canadian companies use referral programs for hiring, and referrals are the leading source of new hires.
So how do you add value to your network? What do you say to them?
This article will give you 7 phrases that show you how. It’s inspired from an article I read from The Ladders.
I love reading their content. Every now and then, a unique, original article reveals itself. And I get inspired to connect the dots to helping you advance your career.
So check out these phrases that your network would love to hear.
#1 “I was thinking about you”
A career coach I follow did some research and discovered that you need on average about 25 strong connections in your network before you get your next job.
For someone to qualify as a strong connection they must be two things:
- They must be in a position to hire you
- They must be actively engaged in conversation with you
It’s not hard to remember 25 people. So when something you read about reminds you of somebody, use it!
For example, the CIO of the city of Toronto is on my network. Every time I read an article of how Toronto is progressing as a smart city, I think of him.
So a LinkedIn message to him might sound like this – “Hey Rob. I read about how Telco providers are investing $1.8B in 5G technology in Toronto to boost IoT tech in the city, and it got me thinking about your article to promote Toronto as Canada’s first smart city. Looking forward to it.”
After that message, I’d insert a reference to the article I read.
#2 “What do you think?”
How awesome does it fell when somebody asks for your opinion on something?
As human beings, we are all filled with opinions, just waiting for a chance to dish it out. And you can be that someone that gives your network a chance to speak their mind.
You could have read an article on leadership and simply share it with your contact.
“Hi Greg. I know you’re a big believer in leadership, and this YouTube video from Simon Sinek absolutely blew my mind. Check out how he compares leadership to brushing your teeth. Let me know what you think.”
Notice how I added a hint of curiosity in there?
Other examples could include industry news or community news as well. Just make sure that you’re using noteworthy attributes of your contact so that you’re asking their opinion on a topic that is relevant to them.
#3 “I never thought of it like that before”
There’s something fulfilling about imparting wisdom. As human beings, we are naturally wired to be helpful to others.
When you allow your contact to realize they’ve changed your perspective, or brought valuable information into your world, they take pride in being educators.
You can follow up the responses you get from phrases #1 and #2 with “That’s interesting. I never thought of it like that before.” This may even keep the conversation going.
#4 “The last time we spoke you told me…”
It’s important to keep track of your interactions with your network, especially with your core 25.
When you’re able to retrace the conversation and remind them of the last discussion you had, it shows that you’re a good listener and that you genuinely care.
In #1 I mentioned the CIO of the City of Toronto is on my network.
The reason I was able to add such a high profile contact was because I used this tactic.
I attended a conference where he was the guest speaker, and in my connection request to him I stated “During your speech, you mentioned you’re a big believer in promoting our youth to take on more challenging roles. I’m a big believer in that as well.”
#5 “I followed your advice”
A great follow up to the previous point, and also another variation to #3. When you tell someone you followed their advice, not only are you showing that you’re a good listener, you also give them the satisfaction of being educators.
“I loved your article about advanced techniques with Excel macros. I never thought that macros could be so powerful. I followed your advice and cut my reporting time by 2 hours per week! Thanks a lot. I can’t wait to read more about your work.”
#6 “I really admire … about you”
Make sure to keep this professional.
Everyone has admirable professional qualities. If their LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and they are active, it shouldn’t be hard to pick up on a few things you can mention.
Perhaps it’s their career progression. It could be about their consistency with writing articles. Senior executives usually volunteer their time and are board members of non-profit organizations. You could admire the organization they represent.
I’ve seen the most effective us of this is during the LinkedIn connection request itself – “… I really admire your career trajectory, and how you moved from a junior sales associate to VP of Sales and Marketing.”
#7 “I love your energy”
This works well only after meeting your contact in person.
It’s a great variation to point #6 on highlighting admirable qualities.
You could try relevant variations on this phrase – “I love your energy/vibe/commitment etc.”
“Love” is a powerful word, but could also be perceived as inappropriate if used in the wrong context. Make sure that what you “love” is a professional quality and not any physical attributes about the person.
Don’t use this as a stand alone statement. Inject it with context and perhaps combine it with other phrases I have mentioned.
Your Network Is Your Net Worth
Now that you’ve got the strategy, you only need your commitment.
“Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.” — Herminia Ibarra
You have heard that networking is important to your job search, yet when you think about networking you dread going to conferences, you limit your efforts to liking articles or following people on LinkedIn, and joining social media groups.
Those activities are the first baby steps you can take in your networking strategy.Y
Your ultimate goal should be to have meaningful one-on-one conversations with your core network – the group of around 25 people who have the power and authority to hire you.
These are not your friends and family. These are not recruiters. These are the decision makers and influencers for the job you are targeting.
Why is this important as a job seeker?
Because when an opening comes up your core-25 contacts are aware of, either on their own teams or their network, they will think about you.
When they think of you, they will extend a referral. Or you may have to ask for it. Either ways, you stand a much better chance of scoring that referral with them, now that you’ve added tons of value to them.
And when that happens, any shortcomings you may think you have – lack of experience, qualifications, employments gaps – can be overlooked.
Why would your core-25 willingly give you a referral? Because they trust you. And they trust you because you committed to staying in touch with them – unconditionally.
And when it comes to networking, trust conquers all.
“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Zagler
Have you had any phrases that has worked well for you in the past? Comment below and let’s get those conversations going!