Networking during Adversity

Networking during Adversity

Networking during Adversity

You have been an active part of my journey as I write my first book, “What’s Your Plan B?” It makes me even more ecstatic to share a snippet directly from my book that talks about one of the many steps on how to work your network to your advantage effectively.

 

Adversity teaches us the importance of having a network to rely on in trying times. This is when you should be able to reach out to the professional and trustworthy network that you have built and ask for help. A time when every step challenges you, networking can be just the aid you need in your corner. But, as easy as it seems, more often than not, it is not the case.

When I researched for my book, I found an interesting trend; a vast majority of people look at networking as a solid base when considering a Plan B. And rightly so, in the age of digital media, people around the world are accessible via varied mediums and in a single click. But there’s a catch. There always is! All you have to do for successful networking is to say the right words effectively.

Now, let’s understand this better. You see a trend in networking, and you join the suit and build a vast network; is that enough? No, you have to learn to capitalize on your investment in this network. Quite often, people having extensive networks struggle to find the right opportunity. Why do you think this happens?

The answer is people hesitate to make a move; so, they are unprepared and say the wrong words. Hesitation to reach out at the initial onset of adversity can make matters worse. If and when you have to turn to this network as a last resort, there is a high possibility that you’re too late to the party and lost your golden opportunity. Elvis has left the building!

The present time is a good reminder of why exactly we need a Plan B and how to work it out. As COVID 19 pandemic threatens to push the world into a deep recession, there is still time to reach out to your network and make it stronger. Here are three tips that can eliminate your hesitation, get you ready, and geared up to face the challenge.

 

  • Prepare for “the” question – When you connect with someone in your network, you have to start the conversation with an ice breaker. Most of the time, your connection asks you the very same question; let’s say, for example, “What are you doing these days?” It may sound like just another icebreaker; remember that this is a connection that you want to capitalize. You may have lost your job or maybe sitting idle at home binging Netflix during the lockdown. You may have an urge to say something routine that you usually say to a neighbor or an acquaintance. However, since you want some assistance in return, remember to give a convincing and unique answer to maintain credibility with your network. Choose your words carefully.

During a virtual speech at a university in Amsterdam during the lockdown of 2020, I emphasized to all students that, be it a job interview or meeting a potential strong network, people will always ask you, “So, in the duration of the lockdown, what did you do to develop yourself?” When faced with a question like this, your answer will determine if you can create magic in the mundane. To have a desirable impact on your candidature, talk about a course you followed, or tell them how this lockdown has helped you unleash your creative abilities by giving examples. You can also talk about a personal goal like exercising or developing a healthy lifestyle and balance. This, in turn, will reflect highly on your profile, your attitude towards adversity, and the goal to reinvent the wheel and flourish. This should stimulate your connection to help you with your goal more than you anticipate.

 

  • Offer to help before you ask – When you develop a connection, you must establish a give and take relationship. Do this by offering to help out before you even ask for assistance. In adversity, such as the pandemic or any other black swan kind of an event, it is crucial to understand that you aren’t the only one suffering. To offer help, you have to know your strengths. You have to anticipate their needs even before asking and understand what it is that you can offer. List down a few of the things that you can offer as help, such as connecting them with someone for a job they are looking for, helping them with their research, or proofreading an email. The offer to accept help now rests on their shoulders, and they have a choice to consider it. Offering help also has a significant advantage; it helps you put your best foot forward. It helps to portray yourself as a person of an equal stature who is not greedy or an opportunist always waiting to pounce with the attitude of taking, take, and take.

 

  • Be specific – It is important not to ramble on when you ask for help. You may hesitate and lose sight of your goal. You can end up having an hour-long chat with someone, and yet, nothing concrete may come out of it. Why? This happens because, in an hour-long conversation, you may have digressed from the original subject or, worse, not have asked exactly what it is that you needed. You were unsuccessful at being specific in what you were asking. Your connection has a life of their own, and there may be some pressing matters on their mind. You’ve to realize that they may be busy, and if you aren’t clear about what you want from them or you don’t display some degree of urgency of the matter, they may forget about what you need. To be more hands-on, here are some of the things that you can address to be effective when asking for help:

 

  • Be crisp and clear about what you’re looking for, for example, “Please do let me know when it will be possible for you to connect with Mr. ABC, or can you let me know by when it will be possible to give me feedback on my resume?”
  • If it turns out to be a lengthy conversation, repeat all the to-dos and actions at the end of the conversation so that the end goal is obvious on everyone’s mind. They know precisely what they are supposed to do. Make sure to reiterate your point at the end of the conversation like a call-to-action.
  • Timebox it. It may be a bit tricky, but try to set a deadline for your request. Try to get an approximate timeframe for the completion of the action requested from the connection. This helps you to not wander for the results but set a date for a follow up if needed. This action also portrays a good sense of urgency. For e.g., can we have a call in two weeks to discuss the progress on this, or what would be an excellent time to set up a meeting with Mr. ABC?
  • Do not overwhelm your connection; ensure that there are some actions to your name as well. When you ask for assistance, do your part first in trying to achieve your goal. Examples of such behavior include, “Check resume; contact X and then connect me with X.” Such half-done actions make you lose credibility and make the connection feel burdened unnecessarily. Good behavior like, “I will update my resume with your feedback and email it to you,” shows you as committed to the idea and eases your connection as being the guiding factor in this scenario.
  • Always be grateful. Never forget to thank a person even if they haven’t accomplished the action yet. You’ve been heard. You’ve crossed the first step. Thank them for extending the courtesy to help you move to the next level.

 

I hope you find this snippet from my upcoming book, “What’s Your Plan B?” interesting, helpful, and worthwhile to give it a try. I am happy to hear your comments and suggestions and start a discussion about how to connect with your network rightfully. Happy networking!

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Lithuania calling this October. Really happy that I will be speaking at the PMI Congress in Lithuania on how to survive adversity. In my talk, I will share my idea on why we need a plan B and how to choose and make your Plan B.