Never underestimate another person’s network.
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job SearchNetworking
People. They’re all around you. And guess what? They know other people. And it’s through these relationships that you may just find your next job, board member, customer or friend.
Whenever I’m meeting someone for the first time, I think about the guy in the old Verizon commercials – the one with the network behind him. And I’m reminded that everyone has a network behind him or her. And I don’t know if their network has two people or 2,000, but it’s my job to figure it out.
Too often, we make judgments about others’ networks. We decide whether their network will or won’t be valuable without even giving them a chance.
I was on a flight from Orlando last month and sat next to what I (or anyone of any age) would consider an elderly gentleman. My first assumption when I met him was that he was retired. After all, we were flying from Florida – the retiree capital of the U.S. But my assumption turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.
Turns out that this man is the Chairman of one of the largest companies in Denver. He’s not only actively involved in the organization, but his network probably reads like a Who’s Who of Denver.
That same week, on a different flight, I met woman who runs a winery. Talk about a great contact! Plus she was great fun to speak with.
In hindsight, I’m really glad I started conversations with them because it could’ve been really easy to sit down, say hello, put on some headphones, and keep to myself for the entire flight.
All too often, though, I see that happening… people being cordial and then getting right to their own business. It’s like going to a party and not mingling with anyone (and yes, I’ve seen that plenty of times as well).
Too often, we’re so caught up in our own business that we’re not taking the time to build new relationships. And then when we need them, we don’t have them. I remember when I was looking for a new job, I was looking for an executive contact at a major hotel chain. I went to an event, and met a recent college grad. I had zero expectation that she would have any contacts at this hotel chain, let alone at a high enough level. But, as it turns out, her dad was an executive at that very hotel chain. What a great contact! And how fortunate that I didn’t let my judgment get in the way.
Next time you have the opportunity to be around people (which basically means next time you leave your house), take advantage of it. Make conversation with perfect strangers. Focus on building relationships without preconceived notions of who knows whom. Get better at realizing that your next job, customer, board member or friend, just might be seated next to you. And they’re there for a reason!