Networking: Is It Really All About Who You Know?

The inspiration for this blog post came from YOU. Yes, you. Reading this right now. You, who is concerned about submitting a resume that stands out and actually gets a thorough look. I know how you feel! I felt it too back when I set out to get a remote job.

I listen to the common concerns in the community and this is a BIG one. So buckle up and get ready for a solution.

For everyone who finds themselves talking about, or rather, complaining about the fact that there are so many jobs that get taken up by people who just happen to know someone in the industry or know someone in the company, I’m here to tell you there’s a solution to the problem.

The Problem

First, it’s easy to focus on excuses that aren’t in your control when you’re struggling to get a job. It’s a normal reaction, but it keeps you stuck in a rut. Instead of focussing on why someone else got the job, ask the hiring manager for feedback, look inside yourself, learn how you can improve, and stop hating on the person who landed the job you wanted. Most importantly, get rid of the negative attitude because it’s not going to get your hired. If this offends you, I’m sorry, but I’m here to provide you with tough love that destroys old habits and creates new ones that will get you hired.

You’ve probably heard since you were a kid that if you want to get far in life, if you want a great career, if you want to climb the ladder, it’s all about who you know… and that statement is absolutely… TRUE!

I hope you didn’t think I was going to dispel this myth. It’s not a myth; it’s the reality. So, knowing that, would you like to know how to spin this in your favor?

The Mindset

Let’s begin by flipping the negative mindset. Why is this truth viewed so negatively? Why is it a bad thing, and how can you take advantage of it? This is how you should be thinking about life in general, especially in job searching. Always look for the advantage that you can use in your favor. So, if you know it to be true, time and time and time again, that you get beat out by people who know someone in the company, why don’t YOU work to become the person with connections?

Has it gotten to the point where every time you apply you feel like, “my application isn’t going to be looked at if there’s someone that knows them” or “I’m not in that circle so I might as well not even try?” Be honest. If these are the things that are happening inside your head and coming out of your mouth, then news flash- you need to network. There’s no other way around it. 100% of the time, you will always get beat by someone who is equally or even a little less qualified but has an in with the company.

The Solution

The people who get personally referred into the company are going to get looked at first, have more of a chance, and have a leg up on you. So how about you get your butt out there and start networking? Because it’s really about who you’re going to know, not just about who you know right now. You might know a couple of people in the digital world right now, but if you networked consistently you would know many people in some really great positions to connect you to others. So here is what you’re going to do. Instead of saying, “Well clearly, it’s just about who you know,” you’re going to get into action. I know this comes out of your mouth or swirls around in your head because I used to be this way too. I used to think all of these negative thoughts about how it’s so unfair. It’s not unfair. The people who network get ahead in life because they invested time into being connected with important people. Will you become one of those people?

Try It Out

Try spending the same amount of time you spend on job searching, on networking. Let me repeat that. If you are job searching for 20-30 minutes every night when you get home from work, (because if it matters to you enough you probably are) then you should be spending the 20-30 minutes on networking. Taking it further, if you’re not doing this, you have no room to complain about people who are better connected and are getting the jobs that you want. They know the importance of networking, and it’s about time you did too.

Networking in the remote world is a bit different, so I’ve laid out some guidelines below. Where can these connections take place and once you find where all the people you want to be connected with hang out, virtually or in person, what are you supposed to say in order to develop those relationships? I’ve got your back with this step by step action plan.

Step By Step

Step One – Answer this question: Where do the people I want to be connected with hang out? Here’s an example answer. Do you want a remote marketing position? There are a few places you can go to network.

  • Join some free online courses, (like Hubspot Academy) and talk to the people that are also taking those courses. This may be in the course forum or a designated Facebook group for the course students.
  • Sometimes they are on the same level as you, but that doesn’t mean they can’t connect you to people that might be able to offer you a job.
  • Sometimes they’re a level up. Sometimes they’re taking the Hubspot Academy marketing course because they already work for a digital agency and they’re required to work on their skills annually. You definitely want to talk to those people. Ask them a question like, “how did you get started working remotely?”
  • Sometimes those people are going to be the direct person who can offer you a job if you connect with them. Think about it. Entrepreneurs and small businesses take these courses to implement new strategies and learn about the market trends. However, any business owner will tell you that they don’t want to do everything themselves. So, maybe you end up handling their marketing in a remote role.
  • Another great place to network is Inbound. Go to Inbound.org and hang out in their forum. Check out the remote jobs on their job boards.
  • You might want to join a marketing Slack community. Start with Online Geniuses; that’s a good one for marketing, social media, CRO, etc. Start providing value, asking questions, and giving feedback when someone asks for it. Don’t just go in there and post, “I am looking to get into the remote marketing industry. Can someone connect me with cool people?” Find out what you can say instead on Step 2 of this blog post.
  • If you’re interested in Instagram marketing, join some IG engagement pods. Make tight connections with those 10 or 15 people that are agreeing to engage in that pod.
  • If you’re a fan of LinkedIn, join a LinkedIn group. There are tons! For example marketing LinkedIn group, SM marketing LinkedIn group, etc. You can have conversations in there, share articles, and ask important questions.
  • Lastly, there are tons of Facebook groups that are geared towards helping marketers improve. That’s where you want to be because that’s where online marketers hang out. Check out my post on How To Find Your Dream Job With Facebook Groups. 

Again, it IS about who you know so you’re going to network as much as you job search because it’s so backwards that you’re spending all this time job searching and improving your resume when you know that people who are well connected will get the job. So why aren’t you?

The truth is, it IS about who you know, so get out there and get to know some people.

Step Two – Once you get into those communities and forums, (Reddit and Quora are also good options) what do you say? This is the second step of strategic networking. Don’t say, “Hi my name is Taylor. I’m interested in, I have experience in, blah blah blah, me me me.” Instead, ask open-ended questions.

  • For example: Are you looking for Virtual Assistance work? Instead of hanging out in all the VA Facebook groups, where all the other VAs hang out, why don’t you go into a niche group where you would be able to provide value. Try targeting entertainment professionals, models, actors, singers, performers, etc. They need personal assistants or VAs, so why don’t you go into an entertainment professionals Facebook group, start commenting on people’s posts, encourage them, say you’re impressed by them, and ask them questions like this: What is the biggest thing you struggle with when you’re going to auditions? What is something you wish could just be done for you every Monday morning? When you get those answers, answer with the intention to build relationships. Put the knowledge in your back pocket. Ask more questions about them and see where it goes.
  • The same rules apply when you’re at a physical networking event. Please don’t walk up to someone saying, “Here’s’ my card, here’s my resume, let me know if you can connect me with anyone that can offer me a remote position.” Instead, ask what they do for a living. Then ask open-ended questions like how they got started in the industry. You can intertwine your answer like this: “Oh, wow. You’re actually in the industry I’m trying to break into. How did you get started?” That person will talk your ear off about how they got started. Other things you can say are, “I’ve never heard of that company before. Who ended up introducing you to that company because I actually would like to get in touch with them, if you don’t mind.”
  • After you build some rapport, here is what you say to ignite some kind of action from that person to help you. “Jeeze, it’s been really great listening to all of your experience and stories. You’ve inspired me to take action and I really appreciate you speaking with me. I am ___ years old and I’ve been working as a _______________ for ___ years (or whatever situation you’re in: just got out of college, stay at home mom, corporate employee, etc). I am ready to improve my professional career and I’m looking to use my ________ skills or experience in ___________, in the virtual industry. Is there anyone in that industry you can connect me to?”
  • The person probably has 1-2 people they could connect you with. But if the answer is no, say “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and I learned so much from you, so I’m really glad I ended up reaching out to you.”​

Start Today

This way of networking is efficient and strategic, but it can only work if you actually do it consistently. It is so true; it really is about who you know. I’m sorry there is nothing else that I can say to dismantle that fact of life. It’s common sense. Obviously, if you’re connected or you’re personally referred into the company, you’re going to have an edge over the person who has no affiliation and no connection. If you want your resume to get looked at for more than 6 seconds, if you want to get invited to interviews, and if you want to stop getting beat out by people who just happen to know someone in the company, then you need to take it into your own hands and network your butt off.

I’ll leave you with this; It’s not about who you know right now it’s about who you’re going to know.

I challenge you to network more, starting today!

Networking CAN be fun. Join us in this free Facebook group and start making connections today!