Networking can be intimidating, but more often than not, it’s a sure-fire way to get your foot in the door somewhere. To really make it work, you have to be as diligent with your network as you are with employers.
Take our fictional friend Roybert. Roybert is a part-time barista who spends his non-working hours churning out job applications, cover letters and resumes. He isn’t dead-set on a particular career path, but he had a good record in college, has solid work experience, and could easily be successful in a multitude of fields.
His regular customers know this. In fact, many have offered their help with ideas and intro’s. One morning, one of Roybert’s regulars walked in with an extra spring in her step:
Regular: Roybert, I was talking to an old friend from college last night. She’s the Chief Technology Officer for the City of Coolville (where they live) and needs some additional staff. I know you’re interested in government – how ‘bout I connect the two of you?
Roybert: Wow Regular that would be amazing and I really appreciate you thinking of me. Here is my contact information!
After his shift ended, Roybert dashed home to get his resume in tip-top shape and prep for what he wanted to say to Regular’s friend. Lo and behold, that very evening, he received the prized email.
Email: Hi Roybert! CTO here. Regular gave me your name and said you might be interested in learning about the work I do. She spoke so glowingly I wanted to reach out right away. I’ve got a busy schedule but could certainly find time to talk. Send along your resume and some possible times.
Now the more Roybert looked at his resume and thought about the meeting, the more nervous he became. He didn’t want to blow his chance. He knew he needed to do some extra homework to prepare and he knew he had double shifts at work coming up. The thought of scheduling this big meeting made him even more anxious.
To himself: C’mon Roybert, what makes you think you can hack it with the CTO of Coolville? You’re just a barista fresh out of college – why would they want you? They’re out of your league.
Self-doubt should not have stopped Roybert from emailing CTO and taking his shot. If he wasn’t ready to dive in head first, he could have sent a message to both Regular and CTO explaining his predicament and agreeing to follow up soon. Or if he was feeling particularly crippled by nerves, Roybert could have reached out to Regular to tell her about his concerns and ask for some advice. But Roybert did none of those things. He sat idle and let his nerves get the better of him.
Regular came in for coffee that week and asked about the interchange. When Roybert sheepishly told her he hadn’t followed-up, she was not happy.
Regular: Roybert, I understand this might feel uncomfortable but in doing nothing, you’re making both of us look bad. I spoke highly of you to CTO and now she’s probably questioning your interest and my judgement. This shouldn’t freak you out. This is just a chance to explore a potential career path. Email her tonight!
Things turned out alright for Roybert. He took what Regular said to heart and finally emailed CTO. He apologized for the delayed response, and honestly explained what had been holding him back. They have a meeting set for next week, and after that public berating in Starbucks, Roybert now understands the importance of timely follow-up.