Seventy to 85% of people land new jobs because of their networks. The majority of jobs aren’t even public knowledge, which means the lucky candidate wouldn’t have known about the opportunity without their network.
Kelly Hoey, a speaker, author and early stage investor who was named “1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship” by Forbes, is so passionate about the power of networking that she wrote the book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World. Hoey firmly believes that building personal relationships is one of the most important things someone can do for his or her career—knowing how to network the right way is absolutely imperative.
What is your biggest piece of advice on how to network the right way?
Be more human. Extend a hand, pull somebody else in, help them. Your network and your world will get bigger.
Tell us more about the human side of networking.
Relationships will ebb and flow. The beauty of the day and age we live in now, though, is that technology allows you to stay in touch with people a lot more easily. Watch and observe your network. What do they post on? What do they talk about? That may give you ideas of ways to connect with them.
And when you think of something in respect to someone, reach out. Show them you were thinking about them. Maybe their kid was in a soccer tournament and you want to see how it went. Or an article just came out about a restaurant the two of you chatted about. All of our lives are messy and complicated. We have full calendars. We can build meaningful relationships without having to meet for coffee.
How did you learn this networking approach?
From being a lawyer. Back in 1991, you did not chase ambulances. You did not put advertisements up in subways. It was word-of-mouth marketing. So, how do you start a word-of-mouth network?
For a lawyer, it’s exceptional customer service. Exceptional behavior and generosity to opposing counsel. Mentoring and bringing that next person in. Delivering content that helps someone else do their job. It’s especially true today, with all the technology we have. We’re in a noisy, complicated, 24/7 world. How do you get your voice heard? Trusted, word-of-mouth networks.
What are some tips for how to network online?
I don’t think of it any differently than in-person. Just because a click or a swipe instantly connects you to someone doesn’t mean you’ve established a relationship of trust. You can’t just ask them for something right away. That initial contact is just the start, and you’ve got to take these very human skills—the ones you’d use meeting someone in person—and apply them in those digital situations.
Do you have a real world example of this?
Tom Peters wrote the foreword to the paperback edition of my book. He’s a best-selling author. We first connected on Twitter because I was looking for conversations around certain topics—management, how you grow a business, and so forth. I followed his account and consistently responded to questions he tweeted. At some point, he followed me back. Fast forward seven years and he tells me he pre-ordered a copy of my book.
When I found out my book was being printed in paperback, I was really excited and direct messaged him to tell him. He asked me who was writing the foreword, and, long story short, I asked him. But that was after six or seven years of building a relationship. If I had asked him that when I first followed him, that would’ve been outrageous.
Your network, both in-person and online, is one of the most powerful career tools you have. But in order for you to have a useful one, it needs to be full of meaningful, human-to-human connections. Not just quick contacts you make to get something out of someone. Using Hoey’s expert advice on how to network can help take your career to the next level.