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How Strong Is Your Network? 4 Key Questions to Ask
Have you ever heard the adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”? If you do a quick Google search on the phrase, you get a multitude of differing opinions about the accuracy of that saying. Regardless, in Corporate America, when a person with authority is willing to endorse or “vouch” for someone, they are essentially saying that they know that person and are willing to put their name behind them. That is the foundation of a great professional network. Most people would agree that having a strong network is a critical aspect of finding meaningful employment and managing your career.
Without a credible network, most people searching for employment in the business world get filtered out. Depending on different factors, there are anywhere from 50 to 250+ people for every skilled labor position in the United States. The overwhelming vast majority of those people never make it to even the Human Resources screening interview, much less the final interviews with the hiring manager and his or her team. Why? Well, in many cases it’s because of their network, or lack thereof.
In my conversations with military officers, I often have the opportunity to ask about their network. Most of the time, officers tell me about the people that they have known through the years. Whether it’s family, friends from college, or connections from peers and bosses in the military, most people would say they have a network. When I ask specifically about the strength of their network or their ability to exercise their network at the right time and for the right role, their answers are a little less concrete. That makes sense to me – until that person is ready to start interviewing, it is often hard to say just how strong their network will be.
When you are evaluating the strength of your network, you can ask the following questions to help in your assessment:
- Is your connection directly with the hiring manager or does your connection have the influence to affect the hiring process in a positive way? When it comes right down to it, this is the key question. Can your network jump to action in order to set you up with actual interviews at the time you need them?
- Do your connections have access to open positions that are commensurate with your experience? This is where things may get a little tricky. For most that I speak to, the goal is to accelerate your career, stepping out of the military, not take a step down in responsibility and salary. So, the question should not only be, “Can my network line me up with an actual interview?”; but “Will those interviews allow me to accelerate my career, offering development, growth and promotional opportunities?”
- Does your network represent a series of A-Tier companies? By that, I mean companies that are leading in their industry, have a remarkable company culture, have a long-term growth orientation, and are built to last, with vision and purpose and strong leadership. That is a tall order, I know. But most military officers feel that they are leaving a great organization that offers a sense of meaning and purpose. They want to step into a company that will offer comparable professional benefits and fulfill their inner sense of purpose.
- Can you exercise your network in such a way that will allow you to line up multiple opportunities at essentially that same time? That’s really the key, isn’t it? It’s not just about getting an interview or two. Most people can do that with a strong possibility that the interview could translate to a job; but is that really the issue? Some would say yes. Most officers that I talk to want more than that. Of course, they want to find meaningful employment, but they also want an A-Tier company with an amazing culture, a place where they have started to build chemistry with their future boss and team, an opportunity that will offer upward mobility, and ideally where they have access to mentorship and development opportunities.
As you read through this, those questions may seem idealistic or a bridge too far. I would agree. Most individuals do not have the capacity to build a network that would satisfy all of those criteria. This is where a high-quality recruiting firm would come in.
If you would like to learn more about the network Cameron-Brooks provides and how you can tap into our network, I want to talk. No pressure. If we meet, the intention will be to better understand your potential transition plans and goals to ascertain if our network and partnership are right for you.
I look forward to meeting you,
Pete Van Epps
If you want to know more about who we are and what we do, there are a load of resources that you can tap into at cameron-brooks.com. You can also find more information on our YouTube Channel and follow us on LinkedIn.