What does career networking have to do with a motorcycle racer?
Last week I rented “The World’s Fastest Indian”, a movie about motorcycle racer Burt Munro. In his 60s and despite health problems, Burt travels from New Zealand to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to pursue a long-held dream of setting a world speed record.
As in any good film, the character (played by Anthony Hopkins) encounters obstacles along the way. Burt makes it through each of these obstacles with help from the many interesting people he connects with during his journey. In a similar way, career networking can help you reach your career goals.
Career Networking Tips
Could Burt have realized his dream without his network? Perhaps. But his journey was much smoother (and quicker) with others helping him on his way. Here are five lessons from the movie that can help you get started on your own networking adventure.
1. Come from an authentic, open-hearted place
Two things about Burt stand out for me. Burt is genuinely interested in other people. He’s open-minded and accepting of other people’s differences and quirks. And Burt helps people whenever he can. Not to get something in return, but to make others’ lives a little easier.
When networking, be open to others and anticipate their needs. To receive help, you must help the other person first. Ask yourself – what value can you provide to your contacts? What resources can you share? Ask open-ended questions to get them talking about themselves and their needs. Then listen!
2. Be yourself
Hopkins’ character is rather “eccentric”, but always real and genuine. Career networking is about building relationships and connecting with others in an authentic way. It’s not about asking for a job or “selling” yourself.
Share who you are with others and let them know what you have to offer. Build rapport in a way that’s natural for you.
3. Focus your efforts
Throughout the movie, Burt always knows where he’s headed and quickly learns who he needs to talk to. You’ll get the best results when you have a networking strategy.
Know what your goals are. Find people who are linked to the decision makers in the companies or organizations you’re targeting. The quality of your network is more important than the quantity.
4. Be open to what comes up
Even though Burt has a plan, he runs into plenty of unexpected adventures along the way. Even his setbacks lead to new opportunities and new relationships.
Think of career networking as a learning experience. Encourage the people you talk with to share their advice and insights. And be prepared to follow new leads wherever they take you.
5. Know it’s never too late
One of the most important things you can do when changing careers is to network. And it’s even more important if you’re over 50. It’s commonly believed that 60% to 80% of jobs are found through networking and personal contacts, not through job boards or ads.
It’s never too late to start career networking and to make it a part of your life. As you begin to reach out, you may be surprised how quickly good things start to happen.
With the support of his network, Burt not only set a world speed record, but continued racing into his 70s.
How can career networking help you reach your dreams?