We have all heard the saying, “its not what you know, its who you know”. Very true whether in a conversation, networking event, or recommending someone for a job. They call it ‘name-dropping’ in social circles. Becoming a better networker is not a revolutionary concept, but it’s well worth the investment of your time and energy.
Even though you might have less experience qualifying for a job, having a network of personal contacts can greatly encourage and motivate in looking for a job change.
We are all familiar with asking, ‘who do you know?’ Honestly, it does have validity and does get you recognized. But don’t just rely on someone pushing you over the finish line. Make sure your skills qualify you for the job. There is no substitute for competency – clearly the most important ingredient and determinant for professional job success!
Unfortunately, in our society, it is often easy to take the path of least resistance which can come in the form of denial, rationalization, a distraction, or even laziness. A simple example might look like this: You avoid reaching out to past colleagues and assume they really can’t help identify opportunities or have useful advice. Whether due to embarrassment or pride, this is a common scenario. You convince yourself its not worth the time investing in a relationship and interaction with others to get the reward. You’re just too busy. Don’t accept this trap as an excuse.
Networking can take different forms. Consider becoming a member in a pharmaceutical industry organization. It’s easy and you can start slow by reaching out to people you know. Here is a few to consider:
- The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (phrma.org)
- The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (aaps.org)
- Intellus Worldwide – PMRG and PBIRG merged (intellus.org)
- Pharmaceutical Management Science Association (pmsa.net)
So what’s the best way to maximize a networking plan to its fullest
1. Reach out often and stay connected.
Back in the mid 1980’s, AT&T generated a great awareness campaign and urged people – metaphorically – to “reach out and touch someone” with their phone service. It was a hit and got people connected long before cell phones were popular. Staying connected in the business world is an absolute requirement. Join one of the many industry organizations as mentioned above.
Sometimes it is better to text or email to make a quick intro, than to pick up the phone and call someone. My old school mindset says a conversation wins the day, but I also agree communicating information quickly is useful. Folks are busy. Texting and email has become a compliment to my network communication with clients, candidates, and key opinion leaders. It all comes down to keeping in touch and maximizing your exposure with others. I absolutely suggest you should habitually connect with others on LinkedIn as well. It is a process developing a network. Keep reaching out and communicate often.
2. Offer some real and useful advice, ask for it too.
When you connect, plan to give more information than you plan to receive. People always remember the person who goes beyond the norm to help someone.
3. Say hello and ask a favor.
Anyone can feel comfortable saying hello, but asking for a favor really determines if another person is willing to invest the time in you. Some common ‘favors’ include; write your request for a ‘Recommendation’ on LinkedIn; act as a reference for a potential new job; or accept a local lunch invitation to catch up and exchange ideas. All make a positive impact and who knows, maybe a future job offer.