I had the opportunity to attend two special events facilitated by classmate Andy Chan. Andy had run career services for Stanford Business School for several years until he was recently whisked away by Wake Forest University to build an exciting new platform of integrating personal and professional development into the college experience.
- Career and Life Visioning workshop
- Career Networking event
While attending Andy’s group networking event, I made several terrific new contacts that I am keen to develop into potential relationships. I also gained a few new insights from Andy about networking, what it is and what it isn’t and how to do it even better. I felt compelled to share what I learned from Andy with all of you.
Here are some pearls of wisdom about networking from Andy Chan:
- networking is about building relationships one person at a time;
- it’s takes a curious mind – ask a lot of questions about the other person, listen carefully and have a “helping heart.” Look for ways in which you can help each other;
- gather information while you network with other people;
- networking is like gardening – it takes time for beautiful things to grow;
- be strategically thoughtful about introducing yourself and deciding in advance who you want to connect with.
Networking Insights for Job-Seekers
Andy also introduced the EPA method of networking when you are looking for a job. Rather than the difficult task of calling people to tell them you are out of work and looking for a job, Andy suggested that you ask your networking contacts for:
- E = Experience. “What your experience, what do you think would be required to do a job like that?”
- P = Perspective. “From your perspective, what is the most important attributes to bring to the table?”
- A = Advice. “What advice would you have for me in this situation?”
Andy also suggests that job-seekers ask very straight-forward questions, such as “Be honest with me, do you think I have a shot at this job opportunity?” If they answer no, then ask “What experiences, knowledge or other skills do you think I need to acquire to be a serious candidate for such a position?”
If Andy is correct and networking is like gardening, then why do so many people approach it like shopping for take-out food at the grocery store or drive through fast food. They next time you feel hungry for new connections, remember the gardening metaphor. It’s time to till the soil, plant the seeds and nurture your relationships over time. Then and only then will you reap the true rewards of an influential professional network.