Why Networking Is Essential For Career Success

Via: Eat Your Career

Written by Chrissy Scivicque

Networking.The word alone strikes fear in the hearts of many.

It’s so awkward and uncomfortable! It’s so inauthentic! It’s just so…so…exhausting.

That’s why many professionals put it off. If you’re happily employed and your career is chugging right along, networking often gets put on the backburner. I see a lot of people who only start thinking about networking when they “need” something—like a new job, for example. But in order for someone to help you, they must first know, like and trust you. And that takes time!!

To help inspire you to get started networking NOW, I wanted to highlight just a few of the reasons it’s essential for career success. After all, if you aren’t convinced that it matters, you’ll never do it.

But before I jump into that, let me be clear about one thing: Networking is all about building authenticrelationships with real people. It’s not complicated. You’ve done it your whole life. Don’t turn this into something scary or awkward or uncomfortable. Networking can happen anytime, anywhere: In the grocery store, at a nightclub, online, at a volunteer event in your community, or at a local meeting of your professional association. It’s always about making a real human connection before anything else.

Okay…now on to the reasons!

The Hidden (Informal) Job Market

Networking gives you access to the hidden or informal job market, which is a helpful tool even if you aren’t actively job searching.

Allow me to explain this a little more. We’re all familiar with the formal job market: A company has an employment need so it creates a job description, posts an ad on the Internet, and receives a pile of resumes to fill the position.

The informal job market, however, always exists in a much more hidden fashion. Before a job is made public (and sometimes before it even exists) there are informal opportunities. Through networking, you have access to these positions that other people never even know about.

For example, a contact in your network knows a position is soon going to be available at her company because a colleague in her office is retiring. The HR department hasn’t even started recruiting for it, but your contact knows you would be a perfect match for the role. If your contact refers you for the job informally, you could end up at the front of the hiring line before there’s even an official position available.

You might not even been searching for a new gig, but let’s face it: It’s awfully nice when exciting new opportunities just fall in your lap. And if you’re a self-respecting, career-minded professional, you know that when a great career opportunity shows up, it’s worthwhile exploring—no matter how happy you are in your current role.

The 2013 Careerxroads Hiring Sources Survey shows that employee referrals are the number one way to get hired. Sure, it’s no guarantee (that same study shows that only about 1 in 10 people referred for a job were actually hired), but it still gives you a serious leg up on the competition. It’s up to you to close the deal though.

Knowledge Share

Networking also gives you access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. The people in your network will likely come from a wide variety of backgrounds, meaning they’ll offer a broad range of perspectives and possess a deep well of wisdom from which you can draw.

When you have a strong network, you have a support team—people you can turn to for guidance, advice or assistance. Together you can share best practices. You become as much a resource for them as they are for you.

In short, your network is a valuable professional asset—a resource that makes you smarter, more experienced, and more capable.

Connections = More Connections

Every person you meet has the ability to connect you to (potentially) hundreds more people. That means your professional network grows exponentially with each person you add.

A strong professional network can introduce you to potential future employers, potential clients, trusted service providers and more.

Need a new bookkeeper for your business? Turn to your network! (I just did this recently.)

Want to get a job at Google but don’t know where to start? Turn to your network! Who do you know at Google? Or who knows someone who knows someone at Google? Chances are pretty good that you’re no more than two or three degrees of separation from any company you want to be a part of.

The All-Important “Know, Like and Trust” Factor

Again, I want to stress the critically important role of the “know, like and trust” factor in all of this. The only way you’ll reap the rewards offered by your network is if the people in it truly know, like and trust you. Otherwise, it’s too risky. They won’t recommend you for a job because they don’t want to put their own reputation on the line for someone they aren’t absolutely certain about. They won’t connect you with their network because you could reflect poorly on them. And they won’t be willing to share their knowledge, offer advice or provide assistance if they don’t first like you as a person. We all already have too many demands competing for our attention—if it’s not at least minimally rewarding or enjoyable to help you, there’s no reason to bother.

Mikala Morgan On Good Morning America | Miss Louisiana Mardi Gras

So start the process of expanding your network NOW, when you don’t immediately “need” something. Deepen those relationships. Be generous and help others first. That way, if and when you need to leverage them, your professional allies will be eager to help.

Why You Should Thrive To Be A #GirlBoss

Basics Beware: We’re All Girl Bosses Now

Via:Rachel Hills, The Daily Beast.

Twentysomething women have turned the boss into an icon, the ultimate position to have dreams and then make them happen. But in doing so, are they selling themselves short?

Be A Girl Boss! - Mikala Morgan

By: Rachel Hills, The Daily Beast 

08.28.14 4:45 AM ET
Alex Hayden Hernandez decided she wanted to be an entrepreneur when she was 14 years old, after she stumbled on a girl her age on MySpace who had made more than $1 million running an online business. “I remember sitting at my computer thinking, oh my god,” she recalls. “She had bought her parents a house.”
From that moment on, Hernandez never considered getting a conventional job. When she graduated from high school, she made her money selling candles online. Then she tried being a health coach, and, after that, a social media consultant. Today, Hernandez’s business is business itself.
Hernandez, 22, is the creator of #bossbabe, a made-for-social-media meme turned online community promoting entrepreneurship to millennial women. Since launching less than three months ago, the project has amassed more than 16,000 followers on Instagram, most of them women aged in their late teens and early 20s. Followers are treated to daily motivational quotes such as “I love the smell of fresh ambition in the morning” and “Don’t ask yourself ‘Why you?’ Ask yourself, ‘Why the f*ck not you?’”, superimposed over images of pop cultural figures such as Beyonce, Nikki Minaj, and Rihanna.

Being a #bossbabe, says Hernandez, is all about attitude. “It’s not a status, it’s not a network. It’s a mentality,” she explains. “A #bossbabe is the girl in the room who has the biggest dream, and the minute she voices it, everyone laughs and thinks she’s crazy. But what makes her a #bossbabe is that she stands by her dreams.

She is a girl who sticks [to] her goals.” The #bossbabe is the counterpoint to another female figure who currently looms large in both the popular vernacular and Hernandez’s Instagram account: the basic, whom Hernandez describes as a girl “who has been so scarred by society that she has no dreams of her own.”
If the #bossbabe sounds familiar, that’s because she is. On Kickstarter, Brooklyn filmmaker Erin Bagwell is raising funds for Dream, Girl, a documentary about female founders and entrepreneurs, which has been featured on Fox Business and Elle.com. Then there’s Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso, whose best-selling memoir-slash-advice book #GIRLBOSS is a forerunner to the #bossbabe in everything from its pale pink design to its hashtag title. Last week, Amoruso announced the launch of her new #GIRLBOSS Foundation, which will award financial grants to women in the worlds of design, fashion, music, and the arts.

Collectively, these young women are making entrepreneurship not just aspirational, but a little bit edgy. While Facebook COO and Lean In guru Sheryl Sandberg urged teachers to “ban bossy,” they embrace the label “boss” wholeheartedly. Nor does the #bossbabe suffer from any “confidence gap.” To the contrary—she is legitimately fierce. “It’s okay. Be humble. Because they already know you’re the sh*t,” reads one pithy quote on Hernandez’s Instagram.

The #bossbabe is a feminist in the sense that she believes men and women should be equal, but she is not interested in talking gender politics. “I believe the best way to honor the past and future of women’s rights is by getting shit done,” Amoruso writes in #GIRLBOSS. But more than feminism, what she embraces is entrepreneurship as a path to individual self-fulfillment; a means through which young women can exercise agency and make their mark on the world. And if you happen to make a quarter of a billion dollars along the way—as Amoruso has—all the better.
“I like the risk-and-reward factor of entrepreneurship,” Bagwell, 27, explains. “I like being in charge and it’s not something I feel is a bad thing. I love being surrounded by one hundred different things going on. It’s really fun, and it gives me a lot of energy.”
This push toward entrepreneurship is not surprising, says writer Kathleen Geier, who is co-organizing a conference on women’s work issues for political magazine The Baffler on September 13. “The economic downturn has diminished economic opportunities for everyone, especially twentysomethings. So this idea of starting your own business, and being your own boss, must sound very appealing. If there aren’t any real jobs available, it’s understandable that people would want to create their own.”

For most people who were born after 1980, there has never been such a thing as a “job for life.” Children of Reagan and Thatcher, we came of age in an era of chronic instability, where the most exciting opportunities available to us were often the ones that we created ourselves. According to the Freelancers Union, nearly one in three working Americans is now self-employed. For those born after 1990, the contrast is even starker—it’s not just a matter of no stable jobs, but in many cases, of no jobs period.
But the upsurge in entrepreneurship isn’t just a reflection of what millennial women are pushed to do. It is also a reflection of what they are pulled to do. And the flipside of neoliberalism’s freefall is the sense that anything is possible. That if you just grab hold of the right ropes and have the strength and strategic know-how to leverage yourself upwards, you will be rewarded with limitless opportunities.
This may sound like a fantasy—and in many ways, it is—but thanks to social media, it is one that it is increasingly grounded in reality. “I feel like we are now living in a time where whatever your gifts are, whatever your passion is, you can take your gift and give it and make a living off it and monetize that,” says Hernandez.
And that’s not only true for outliers like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or teen prodigy Tavi Gevinson. It was on the Internet that Amoruso turned her love of vintage clothing into a successful business. It was on the Internet that Hernandez launched each of her businesses. And it is the Internet that is allowing Bagwell to independently produce her documentary, without the backing of investors or a studio.
Despite this—and despite the proliferation of self-directed women in popular culture at this moment—there is still a sense among young women that being powerful means presenting yourself in a particular way. Hernandez wasn’t just inspired to create #bossbabe because she loved business, but also because she felt a conflict between her entrepreneurial aspirations and the way she wanted to present herself. “I like long nails and big hoop earrings,” she says. “I love to wear big hair and weaves. I have this type of fashion sense that clashes with what we think of when we think of a businesswoman.” The tagline for Bagwell’s Dream, Girl, meanwhile, is “redefining what it means to be a boss.”
In part, that process of redefinition is a matter of popularizing images of the boss as a woman, says Bagwell, who gained much of her early entrepreneurial education through reading books by business leaders such as Steve Jobs and Tony Hsieh from Zappos. But it is also a question of altering what a female boss is permitted to look like, and challenging the muted professionalism of Baby Boomer and Gen X leaders like Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg.