If you feel like your network has let you down, then you really don’t understand what a network is, how to develop it, or how to use it to help you in the job search. Listen up, kids. There WILL BE a test at the end of this post, and if you fail you will add several months (not weeks . . . MONTHS) to your job search.
What you must understand first and foremost is that networking is NOT about you. Ever. It’s about connecting people to help them get what they want or need. Anything that comes your way out of networking is a bi-product of you connecting other people. Many job seekers don’t understand this, and thus, are frustrated when their network does not produce the results they think it should. Many job seekers think the network is there to serve them, to pass along job leads, or to help them get a foot in the door. That is NOT what a network is for. YOU exist to serve the network. The network is not there to serve you.
Here’s the tricky part. It is a proven fact that most people find their job because of a network connection. They know somebody who knows somebody who needs what that particular job seeker has to offer. Your name gets passed along as a potential fit, and before you know it you are sitting in an interview. Somehow that confusingly gets turned into, my network is there to help me find a job. Look closer, because that’s not what is happening at all. That scenario is not about YOU, it’s about the person or company that has a need for something. Your name gets passed along because you have built up trust and respect within your network. You are the connection that helps the other person fulfill their need. Don’t ever get this confused, because that’s when people feel that their network has let them down. In fact the opposite is true YOU have let down YOUR NETWORK. You haven’t shown yourself to be trustworthy, so nobody passed along your name as a potential solution to the other person’s problem. Bitter medicine, perhaps, but that’s the way it works!
In their book, Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith offer a mathematical formula for trust. (Its not theirs originally, but that’s where I saw it, so they get the credit.) The formula goes like this:
(C x R x I) / S = T
That is, CREDIBILITY times RELIABILITY times INTIMACY, divided by SELF-ORIENTATION equals TRUST. The key here, as I see it, is to understand that as SELF-ORIENTATION (or self-interest) increases, your TRUST factor decreases. The more you are in it for yourself, the less trust you obtain. Networks are driven by trust.
So, the next time you feel like your network has let you down check your heart and clarify your motives. Others can tell if you and they won’t tolerate it.