Stop Networking and Start Brainstorming

For those who feel stuck in their current job and are unfulfilled, the first bit of advice people often give is “go network”. Networking is assumed to be going out, meeting new people, so that you can learn of opportunities that exist and that someone in turn might know who you are and give you a job. The problem with this is two-fold: most people out “networking” don’t know specifically what they want to do, and two, why would someone want to network with you? Now, most people are kind and will always take a meeting over a cup of coffee to get to know you. But you can increase the effectiveness by acting as if you were not looking for a job. For example, if you were not trying to “network”, why would you be reaching out to this person? If the answer is “I wouldn’t” then you probably shouldn’t reach out. If the answer is, “I’ve always admired the way this company does such and such” – then you are now onto something. Approach people with interesting and provocative ideas related to what is interesting to you and how it might intersect with them. Not only are they more likely to take the meeting, you will have now showcased your thought leadership and potential contribution you might be able to make.

Co-creating ideas, by the way, IS the thing that is “in it for them”. They’ll be glad you called.