Network Yourself into Your Next Opportunity

You can always apply for a job online, but most jobs opportunities are found through people you know, your network. However, there is a delicate balance. You can't wait until you need the network to build it and you can't wait until you need a job to tell people that you are looking. This is why creating and developing a strong network is very important. Follow these steps and you are well on your way to securing your next opportunity. 

1. Create A Network -The first step in this process is to actually have a network. What does that mean? It's not just friends and family but professional contacts that you've met through industry related, events, panels and conferences.

2. Build Your Network- Now that you have know new people,  make sure that you are developing this network. Contacting people now and again, checking in, and meeting for coffee or lunch.

3. Add Value to Your Network -  This can be assisting people within your network by sending out their resumes to your contacts, editing their resume or letting them know about upcoming opportunities. This is very important because you can't just show up when you need something. People don't like helping people that feel like they are using them. If you add value to your network in advance, people will be more willing to help you when you need something. 

4. Inform Your Network -  This can be direct or indirect. Indirect: Let people know that you are considering a new opportunities. Direct: Let people know you hate your job and you're looking or you can let them know that you're open to opportunities.

5. Utilize the Network - After building a relationship with people over time you can ask someone you know at a place who is looking and asking them to submit your resume. When people submit resumes on behalf of someone else, these resumes get a closer look. However, people do not want to put themselves out there for those that they don't know well because they are also putting their reputation on the line.

If you follow these steps you are well on your way to networking yourself into your next job.



As a supervisor, you sometimes come across employees that are just not motivated. They seem to get "lost in the sauce" all the time. While employees like this can be hard to deal with. There is hope! Here are a few suggestions on things you can do to motivate them. 

1. Identify the issue. - Have a conversation with them regarding why they're not motivated. You wouldn't necessarily say that directly but you can ask "how are you enjoying working here?" The true answer to this will be hard to hide. You can already sense that they do not seem motivated, so once they answer regardless of what they say respond with "what can we do to make this experience better for you?" Or “Is there anything that we can do to help you with what you're working on”? Maybe this person is overwhelmed? Maybe this person doesn't know how to ask for help? Asking these questions shows that you care and they are more likely to open up to you.

2. Figure out why they are at the company -  In large organizations, you may be supervising someone that you did not hire or have a chance to meet during the interview process. So it would be good for you to know why they chose to work at your company. Is it just another paycheck? Would they like to have a career and it's not going in the right direction? Did they ask for more responsibility or opportunities and did not get it? Once you have this information, you can figure out how to motivate them.

3. Help them meet their objectives -  After you find out why they're working there, help them map out a plan to assist them in obtaining what they believe they need. For some, it could be confirming that if they work at a certain capacity they will be eligible for a promotion. For others, they might want to develop a particular skill set. It could also be that they are looking for a particular position in the company and they might feel like they are not on track.

4. Think big picture -  Employees like to know that supervisors care about their future.  Sometimes it helps to let them know exactly where their work falls into the big picture of the company. This also provides an opportunity for you to talk about their advancement in the company and what it takes to get there. These discussions allow employees to feel like they are valued and that you are actually interested in integrating them into the company.

5. Demonstrate their impact - Sometimes people are not motivated because they don't feel like what they do has an impact. Over time doing the same thing over and over again can become mundane. When you let your employees know where their work falls in terms of company structure, you should also let them know how what they do impacts the company. People want to feel like their work matters, so let them know.

6. Appreciate - Some employees just want to hear "great job", "You are doing so well at this". These accolades are actually very meaningful. Everyone wants to feel like their work is appreciated and noticed by their supervisors.  Whenever the opportunity arises, be sure to let them know that they are doing great work and that you value their contribution.

While this may seem like a lot of work for you to take on, if they are receptive you will see great changes in your employee’s attitude and work ethic.



Continued from Part 1

1.     Provide - Often when people network, they strictly focus on what they can get for themselves. Most people can see right through this and will not engage. You should first focus on the value that you bring or how you can mutually help one another. If the event is industry related, it might be easier to just say what exactly it is that you're looking for. After all, you probably paid dues or paid for the event you are attending. However, if it's an after-work networking event, you might want to let people know the value that you can bring to them first.

2.     Have your pitch ready - Prepare a quick blurb about what you do. Are you an aerospace engineer? That’s great, but most people don’t know exactly what you do. Find a way to describe it on a macro-level that is digestible. Your “pitch” should provide key information that you want people to know about you. If you do several things, you should focus on the most relevant one or two things first. As the conversion goes on you can talk about other things that you do. If you lead with too many things upfront, you might seem all over the place.  People will have a hard time figuring out who they can connect you with or how they can help you.

3.     Invest - Build a relationship first! You cannot meet someone one or two times and expect the person to help you automatically, let alone remember your name. Don't get me wrong, there are people that are like that, but sometimes people have to get to know you a little bit more. After someone gets to know you, they may approach you and say "I know about this opportunity and I think it would be great for you." But when you approach people and only think about what's in it for you, it won't work. Think about it this way, it can take years to build a great relationship, so people have a right to be protective. Do you invite everyone that you meet to your home? Probably not, because you don't know them well enough. But after you get to know them and feel comfortable, at some point you will.  

4.     Follow up - This is the most important thing to do. Now you have gone through the effort of meeting someone new.  Did you send a follow-up email?  Did you connect on LinkedIn? Don't just collect business cards at these events. Follow up with an email and maybe even include some things that you talked about. This is a great time to set up more one on one time for coffee, lunch or a follow up call. If you really want to connect with someone and they don't respond the first time, don't fret. They might be really busy, give it about a week or so and follow up again.

5. Have fun - Networking can be hit or miss. The purpose is truly to be open and meet people organically. When you force it, you won't be able to build upon a genuine relationship.

Go out, have a drink and enjoy it!



Networking is an art. Some people can attend events and meet almost everyone in the room, while others can't seem to meet anyone. There is no exact way to network. However, there are a few things you can do to become more effective at networking. Here are a few tips you should try…

1. Set a goal - Identify the reason why you are networking. Would you like to meet more people in your industry? Find a job lead?  A mentor? Potential clients? Understanding the reason why you are networking will help you focus and hone in on your objective.

2. Connect - Actually make an attempt to meet new people. Typically when people network, they either stick to people they know or they seem standoffish because they might be shy. To get the most out of networking, you should actively go up to someone new, say hello and find out more about them. If you are an introvert, aim for group conversations. You can also invite someone to attend an event with you and you can meet people together.

3. Observe - there are several types of networking events. Some are casual and some are serious. You should observe the setting and use that as a way to determine how you should engage. If it's a networking event after a business conference for a panel, people might be more open to talking about what they do and why they are there. If it's an after work networking mixer people might want to keep the conversation very light initially.

4. Lead with a smile! This works every time. How can you deny someone who is looking right at you smiling? It's very hard to do, try it. You don't have to show every single tooth that you have, but greeting someone with a friendly demeanor goes a long way.

5. Discover - Find out interesting information about the person you just met. Not only what they do for a living. You don't want to seem like you are prying, so it's best to keep it light in the beginning.  You can always ask things like "how did you hear about this event?" "where are you from?" or "where do you like to work out?". You can even comment on the weather. These questions might seem minuscule but it often helps to break the ice and creates a building block for more substantive conversation.

Click here for Part II



A few things are unavoidable in the work world, a crowded Starbucks, morning traffic, paper jams and review season. Yep, review season. It is inevitable and it's usually one of the most nerve-racking experiences. There is always something depending on it: increased salary, rank, a bonus, or (in this economy) keeping your job. This article provides a few tips on how to guarantee you get a five star review!

1. Know what is expected of you – Many people start a job and read the job description, but in reality they really don’t know what is expected of them. During the first few days at your new job, ask a lot of questions. Put together what your thoughts are on what you believe is expected of you. Then sit with your boss to go over expectations. If you are not a new hire, it's never too late to get clarification on expectations.

2. Get frequent feedback  – This can be intimidating, but it must be done! Every few months ask your boss about how you are doing. Inquire about what you can improve upon. Don't take this personal because everyone needs to improve in some aspect of their work. It does not have to be formal. You can say things like “how can I make this better next time” or “did this meet your expectations"? If you are meeting expectations, great! If you are not, don't fret, just work on it.  Feedback that is not positive is hard to give, so don't blame your boss if they don't bring it to your attention right away. It's your responsibility to be proactive. If you don’t ask, you won't know.

3. Track your progress and feedback Write it ALL down, especially the good feedback! When your boss says “great job”, “amazing”, "I really like how you did X", etc. Write it down. Write it all down! Also, include the task that it relates to so you have a point of reference.  When its review time you can remind them of why you believe that you are doing well.

4. Ask for more responsibility  – People don’t like to do this, but your value is in what you know! Once you master one thing, learn how to do something else. Your boss will see you as a go-getter and will appreciate the request. Your boss might be so consumed with other things that they do not remember to help you expand your skills sets. But at the end of the day, this is up to you.

5. Help out – Other people in the company will need help on tasks and projects. Is it your job? No. But it doesn’t hurt to help someone out? No. More often then not, they will return the favor. Put this in your notes and mention it to your boss. Don’t look at it as bragging or trying to make your colleagues look bad. This shows that you are a team player. You deserve to be recognized for it.

6. Identify your own areas of improvement – After a few months you will know what you need to work on. Don’t wait until review time to tackle this. Go to your boss and let them know what you want to improve upon and ask for their help. It might be as simple as saying “I want to get better at XYZ, do you have any suggestions?" Your boss will appreciate that you are coming to them to learn how to improve.

If you follow this advice, you are well on your way to getting great reviews from your boss!