By Steve Deverill. Published on 17 February 2016
Do you have one of those friends who only calls when they need something?
Frustrating isn’t it.
Yet it seems to be an approach adopted by far too many people when it comes to their professional network.
Too often, people I have supported while they were looking for a new role, stop returning calls once they have found one. Years later I receive a message suggesting we ‘catch up over a coffee’ and it turns out they’ve just lost their job and need my help again.
Of course, networking is exactly what they should be doing. Recent research published by LinkedIn (Hiring Statistics For Hiring Managers, HR Professionals, and Recruiters) found that the number one way in which people discover a new job is through a referral from their network.
And the evidence suggests that the more senior you are the more important referrals become. Research published in 2015 found that 40% of board executives and corporate directors in the mining industry landed their current role through a referral or personal recommendation.
But let’s be clear; networking should be an on-going process and not just something to do when you’re looking for your next role.
Platforms such as LinkedIn make keeping in touch easy. You can congratulate your contact on his or her new job, comment on their latest post or share some content with them. There’s no excuse for not keeping in touch with your key contacts.
Face-to-face meetings can clearly be more difficult to schedule, but they are worthwhile for your best contacts. I know some people who reserve one or two days of their annual leave for one-to-one networking and seek to meet four or five people in one day.
But what’s the meeting for?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard about networking is to approach it thinking not what you can gain from the relationship, but how you can help the other person achieve their goals. It usually results in a mutually beneficial conversation.
If you believe in karma, or have been convinced by Adam Grant’s popular book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, this approach will be second nature to you. If not, I would urge you to try it next time you have the opportunity.
So even if you’re not looking for a role right now it’s worth keeping in touch with a handful of executive search consultants to share industry insights, get some career management advice or discuss any team hires you’re planning.
Headhunters have long memories
Don’t forget that headhunters are a critical part of your extended network and can connect you directly with new opportunities. A good executive search professional will always be happy to recommend you to other search consultants in their network. I’d encourage you to build a solid, two-way relationship with a small number of executive search professionals who specialise in your profession or sector.
It makes practical sense for your career prospects too. Those people who keep in touch between job searches will inevitably be at the front of our minds when the next opportunity comes along.
So keep in touch.
Ellie.Rich-Poole Partner – Executive Search – Human Resources firstname.lastname@example.org