Networking and Corona — giving your career the right push
Updated: Apr 4, 2021
The past year was extremely challenging in almost every respect. Aside from the hopelessness most of us felt for not knowing enough about what this virus was all about, there was also no chance to escape from it. It was everywhere and affected all aspects of our lives.
A few weeks ago, Leora Golomb contacted me to share my tools and tactics as a networking specialist, as part of a women’s international day event she produced. She wanted me to focus on how we can leverage our career through these challenges. For the first time, with the perspective of working through this pandemic for a year, I had to take an honest and in-depth look at tactics that helped me manage the passing year and gain the best from it.
In the following blog post, I will share with you three main tactics that keep me focused on what I can do and not on what I can not do.
Grow: Build your NET-WORTH. Not network — Tim Ferris
The term “Networking” is being used a lot in the business world. When we want to build our professional network, the idea is to make sure we focus on meeting with people who are relevant for our career development, and who we can learn new skills from. As I mentor many people looking for their next challenge, I often hear about the awkwardness in addressing people and requesting their help to find the next position, or the next career step. The key to finding that next step is to build your network circle all the time, not only when you look for you next role. It is like when I train for a new race: I don’t start from scratch and begin training for a 100-mile race a week before it starts; I keep a regular training schedule, and when I have a specific race coming up, I increase the volume and intensity of my running.
In the business world, when we reach out in order to learn from people “who did it”, we actually create a win-win situation. We learn from other people’s experience, and they get the pleasure of teaching others. I am always amazed at how generous people are in sharing their experience when addressed. When you meet professionals on the go, once you want to move to your next role, it won’t be as awkward as it would be if it was your first interaction. On the other hand, if your first interaction with someone is centered on a “help me find my next challenge” approach, it might create a feeling of opportunism and lead to less engagement from the other party, not only in the current interaction, but also down the line.
WAIT — why am I talking?!
When we meet someone, our tendency is to talk about ourselves and think that this is how we contribute to the meeting. When we are looking for our next challenge, we tend to boost this practice into overdrive, going on something that feels like a steroid-induced road show about ourselves. That is tiring and useless. We already know our own story. We are actually here to learn from the experience of others. When you meet a professional, WAIT! When you are speaking, make sure to stop and let the other party speak. Remember, it is NOT about you: you are here to learn, so use this precious time to ask questions and gain the most knowledge you can from the professional persona you are meeting with. I’ve been using this methodology for the past few years as a business development manager, especially in meetings but also when reaching out via emails, and the results were, and still are, nothing short of phenomenal.
When I joined 3d Signals and had to reach out to potential partners using cold emails (Corona times… hence: no conferences and no face to face meetings), I was feeling really insecure, as for me, this was a totally new market with major cultural differences (Israel vs. Germany and the US). I almost immediately “fell” into the bad habit of sharing the value of the product we provide (in other words, speaking about “myself”). In the beginning, I hardly received any responses, and then I changed my method and focused on what the person on the other side was interested in. I searched for articles, quotes and blogs the person I was interested in connecting with wrote, and tried to find similar interests when addressing them. Like magic, suddenly the conversion of my cold emails into intro meetings increased dramatically. Only then I understood a lesson that I had forgotten: it’s not about me! If you truly want to learn and gain knowledge, you need to listen and not speak. Just WAIT.
Luck — when preparation meets opportunity
I joined 3d Signals in May 2020, when most of the Israeli market was experiencing a lockdown and hysteria because of the Corona virus. Although I had the dream job at a good company — Microsoft — I received an offer I couldn’t refuse from Ariel Rosenfeld, the CEO of 3d Signals. I remember the Friday dinner I had with my beloved grandma, sharing with her that I decided to leave Microsoft and move to a startup. She looked at me with bewildered eyes and said: “there is a global crisis, and you go and move to a startup?! Are you out of your mind?!” I calmed her down saying that she should trust me and I will surprise her. During the last year, 3d Signals was an “island of sanity”: we worked regularly from the office, travelled and met partners and customers around the world and no one lost their jobs or had to go on leave. I was extremely lucky to join the company at the momentum I joined it. But what seemed like overconfidence on my part that was somehow rewarded, was nothing of the sort; I made sure to listen, to get to know people, and to build a network. My confidence in my new home was not a result of naivety, craziness, or ignorance, but of years-long careful network building that started from listening. Only in this way I could identify a good opportunity when it came through the door, and only in this way could I make a bold move for the next stage of my career.
Looking forward, here are my two cents
Many might think that the offer I had received from Ariel was pure luck. I don’t. At least, not entirely. While I’m a great believer in karma, I also know that luck is really only a piece of the puzzle. When cultivating our net-worth, our actions and mind set will dictate our next career moves. We must focus on listening (WAIT) and keep building our net-worth. Luck, in this sense, becomes less of a thing that is beyond our control and more of a state of mind. When we focus on growing and listening, and do so methodologically, we open the door to all kinds of potential opportunities. Some things, like a global pandemic or shifts in the market we find ourselves, are beyond our control. But listening and growing — those are entirely up to us, and the make the less controllable aspects of our lives much more manageable.