“I Don’t Know Anyone”

Who is valuable in your network?  Photo courtesy Bobby Henderson (http://www.venganza.org/hireme.htm)It amuses me when I meet someone who is just starting a job search who says “I don’t know anyone.” This is usually after they hear “most job leads come through people in your network.”

I had the biggest excuse for not knowing anyone. I had moved to from my home of 9 years to a new place and spent all of my time either working or commuting! My work was with people outside of my state, and I never went to any “networking” or community events. Sound familiar?

But it hit me last week what “I don’t know anyone” really means. The next time someone says “I don’t know anyone,” what they really mean to say (or at least what I was saying) is “I don’t know anyone that will add value to my job search.” Or, to my career (because I’m all about career management ;))

Networking is a process, and we learn and grow as we do it. The lesson here is that you can’t judge the value someone will be in your network and immediately discount them (or include them!). There’s a guy here who needed to practice his 30 second pitch, called his grandma in Chicago to run it past her, and she gave him a lead that turned into a job!! Is your grandma on your network list? (I confess that my grandma isn’t on my list)

Take a lesson from your brainstorming days at work, where all ideas are accepted. That’s how you start your network. I recently wrote a post on CollegeRecruiter.com about who college students should include in their network – that might be a good post for you to read as you think about who to put on your network list.

One more thing – don’t get caught up in the design or software. Get a paper and pencil and begin listing all the names you can – or use this simple spreadsheet that you can then import into JibberJobber – but this needs to be a fast, free-flow process.

Go ahead, what are you waiting for?

5 thoughts on ““I Don’t Know Anyone””

  1. Jason,

    Unless your a hermit you know lots of people and they know lots of people who know lots of people . . .

    The value any of these can provide is not necessarily a job lead (its great if they can) but they may know of someone at your target company or know someone who knows someone there. I’ve heard countless stories of people get contact referrals from the checker at the grocery store, some in an excercise workout class, a wife’s garden club friend etc.

    Very often it is a case of “who do you know who . . .”

  2. Jason,

    You’re right…Often people think that no one in their network can help them. Sometimes when people say they don’t know anyone, there imay be a hidden message in what they are saying. Many people are reluctant to network because they think that networking means asking for a favor and this makes them uncomfortable. Others doubt their own abilities and are fearful that there is no one out there that is willing to become an advocate for them during their job search.

    Networking is not about asking for favors…it’s about asking for and sharing information. People are very willing, even flattered, to share information. People do not have to be your best friend in order to help you in your job search and as long as the job seeker is willing to put themselves out there, they will get some exceptional advice and help.

  3. Mike – excellent point. The grandma wasn’t a hiring manager, but she knew someone, who probably knew someone!

    Barbara, excellent! The value of a network doesn’t depend on the level of friendship! Having a strong network contact (that you might rate as a 5 star, for example) doesn’t mean that you are best friends. I hadn’t thought about that before. Also, the idea that this statement is a red flag where you might need to dig deeper to get more info about the real concerns… right on.

  4. Jason,

    I agree that the underlying message of people who say they don’t know anyone is that they don’t know anyone who can help them “find a job.” Networking must be about giving to get, and the getting is really asking for contacts not asking for a job.

    Beyond that, the mentality seems to be a one degree of separation rather than six degrees of separation. The truth is, we don’t know who knows who (did you get that) until we begin a dialogue. My brother could be the president of Kraft Corporation (he isn’t), but without engaging me in a conversation, you don’t know who I know and who I can introduce you to.

    Cindy Kraft
    the CFO-Coach
    http://www.cfo-coach.com

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