Keith Bogen, human resources expert, has gotten multiple jobs and countless clients over the course of his career, but hasn’t gotten a single one of those from responding to an Internet listing since 1995. That’s all due to the power of networking, which he does all the time: even outside of work, even at his kids’ Little League games. He says job seekers should even network when going out with friends for a beer after work.
“Most jobs are networking, that’s no secret,” he says. “Eighty percent of jobs are found because you know somebody, not because you applied for something online.”
Bogen will lead a workshop at the Professional Service Group meeting on Friday, September 20, from 9:45 a.m. to noon at the Princeton Public Library. For more information on the free event, visit www.psgofmercercounty.org. His presentation will cover how to network not only for the job you want, but for the next one after that, and the one after that.
“The person who can get you the next job is virtually guaranteed not to be the same person who can make the connection for the next job down the road,” he says. “The lifespan of a job now is two or three years, if you’re lucky. You’re going to be looking for a job pretty soon.” That’s the difference between networking for a job and networking for a career.
Bogen’s strategy when networking counteracts some commonly given advice. “Many job search experts want you to target certain companies, or target certain industries,” he says. “I think that’s wrong and dangerous. By targeting, yeah, you might talk to some people who may be helpful, but you’re going to miss out on other people who may be helpful.” Instead, Bogen recommends networking all the time, even when not at a typical “networking” event or at work. “After work you say, let me go have a beer with my buddies. Your buddies probably have jobs. When you go to the bar, the people next to you probably have jobs. When you go to your house of worship maybe on the weekends, those people sitting next to you in the house of worship probably have jobs. What do you know?”
Bogen says he will tell the stories of people who got jobs by talking to people at their kids’ baseball games, or through other social connections. Targeting a particular company doesn’t take those opportunities into account. Or if they don’t result in anything right away, they might two or three years later. Bogen says he doesn’t draw a line between socializing and networking. “I’m surrounded by a world of people, many of whom I’m friends with and do fun things with, and who also have jobs and careers. As I live my life, I talk to everyone.”
The key, he says, is to make sure everyone knows who you are and what you’re good at. That way, his connections will think of him when they need something done that’s in his wheelhouse.
In Bogen’s case, that wheelhouse is human resources, which he has been practicing for 25 years. He is also a business partner, a generalist manager, and a director for companies. As a consultant, he has worked with more than 40 companies.
Networking comes easily to an extrovert like Bogen. For introverts it’s a bit harder, but Bogen says there are ways to get around natural shyness. One icebreaker is to connect with someone at upcoming networking events beforehand by emailing or making a quick call. “Make sure you know someone before you go,” he says.
Another icebreaker, if you’re in a job interview or in someone’s office, is to look around the space for something to talk about — sports equipment, family pictures, or vacation photos can all provide a jumping off point for conversation. The good news is that introverts are pretty good at making connections one-on-one, Bogen says.
Successfully using those connections to establish a personal brand is a bit trickier and involves perfecting an “elevator pitch.” Bogen says it is crucial to be able to distill your talents and career ambitions into a 30-second spiel that can get the idea across before the person you’re talking to loses interest.
True networking also requires followup. If a connection is made, contact the person afterwards via social media or other means to share information and see if there are any doors that you and your connection can open for each other. “Networking is not a snapshot in time, but a living, breathing thing,” Bogen says.
“It’s a multi-pronged approach,” Bogen says. “You have to make sure people know who you are and what you’re good at.