Put the odds in your favor
How many new people are you interacting with on a weekly basis? And by interacting, this means having a two-way conversation that can build a connection of some sort. Even if you’re socializing on a regular basis with at least one person a week, how many of these people are by chance and how many are strategically chosen?
Quality of interaction is more efficient than quantity, and especially if you don’t consider yourself the socializing-for-fun type then strategically placed social interactions are especially important.
Despite this, progress can still feel like a slow slog towards your goal if you’re only networking and building connections without any real momentum. Therefore you need to keep two things top of mind when networking with a purpose to get maximum results:
- Be proactive: create your opportunities
- Cast a wide net
Create your opportunities
Matthew Hussey is a communication expert who is world-renowned for his networking advice. These days he applies his interpersonal expertise to dating but it translates quite well when you look at it from the point of view for building authentic connections with others. Here is what he says about creating your own opportunities:
Waiting or Creating
Life is full of people who wait. They wait for the right moment to approach someone, or
wait for someone to approach them first. They wait for someone to show enough
interest that they don’t risk being rejected, they wait to be invited, and they wait to
make a move. They wait to feel confident before taking action. Wait, wait, wait, for
“Waiters” imagine they are playing it safe, but more often than not, only two
things come to those who wait: the wrong thing or no-thing.
Ask yourself: Right now, at this very moment, am I waiting or am I creating? Am I
taking the positive steps which will give me results?
There’s an added benefit to taking your life into your own hands: when you know
you are doing everything in your power to improve your situation, you can be con-
tent even if the results aren’t immediate. The knowledge that you are moving for-
ward, improving, and developing in a significant way is what makes humans happy.
Wherever you feel you are right now, you still have a choice: you can wait or you
There is only one way to wait: just do nothing. But there are thousands of ways
to create, so the opportunities are endless.
Casting a wide net
If you want to have a better chance of finding the right connection that may lead to a professional opportunity, you must begin with meeting more people. Not one more, not two more, but a lot more. The more people you meet, the more you increase your chances of finding the right opportunities. This doesn’t just apply to finding a job – you can use this method with apartment searching, dating, making Swedish friends, buying a new car, and so on.
Try to imagine networking like dating: you may meet a lot of people, but you will probably only genuinely connect with a smaller percentage. For example, imagine attending a party where there are two hundred people in the room.
Out of these two hundred people, how many would you feel like genuinely following up with due to a personal connection or enjoying their company? Maybe twenty to fifty? Out of this twenty to fifty, there might be only ten or fifteen to whom you felt enough connection to meet more than one other time, not to mention they feel the same way about you.
From this remaining ten or fifteen, how many would actually have leads that can apply to your unique goals, and how many are actually willing to go out of their way and refer you for something very specific, like a job? Five? How long will it take to find your job via referral if you’re meeting only one new person each week? Anywhere from months to years, and in this scenario, you’re left relying on fate, which is like hoping to get rich playing the lottery.
Sometimes people get lucky and they get the right opportunity right away, and it doesn’t take necessarily two hundred people to find your referral. The point of this example is to see that your odds of finding exactly what you’re looking for increase with the more people you interact with. Several other things happen:
- Momentum builds, and you find new connections effortlessly rather than hunting around for them because so many people are referring you around and it’s compounding.
- Your interpersonal skills improve much more quickly, your communication improves, you become wiser and better adapted to the Swedish culture and therefore begin attracting more Swedish friends, professional opportunities, and general acceptance into the community.
- You attract more than one golden opportunity because the seeds you planted months ago by talking to so many people circle back to you in the future when an opportunity becomes available several months later.
- Your network expands exponentially – now you may have more Swedish people in your social media networks, too. This means if you apply for jobs that you may have mutual connections in contact on LinkedIn instead of being a “nobody” in the Swedish culture. This immediately improves your credibility just by knowing the same person, even with no introduction.Every interaction with another human being is a possible gateway to some new world or experience, which could, in turn, introduce you to amazing opportunities (i.e. the one you’re specifically seeking).
Abundance mindset instead of scarcity mindset
Most of us are operating in a scarcity mindset when looking for a job, clients, or professional opportunities – especially as internationals. And this is totally understandable! Look at this statistic on what international professionals are facing in the Swedish job market:Every interaction with another human being is a possible gateway to some new world or experience, which could, in turn, introduce you to amazing opportunities (i.e. the one you’re specifically seeking).Abundance mindset instead of scarcity mindset
Most of us are operating in a scarcity mindset when looking for a job, clients, or professional opportunities – especially as internationals. And this is totally understandable! Look at this statistic on what international professionals are facing in the Swedish job market:
This isn’t a made-up thing to stress over… we have real challenges to overcome. A scarcity mindset can show up in the form of worrying about visa deadlines, financial stress, a limited number of jobs available for a non-Swedish speaker, and so on. But the truth is that having this mindset (even if there is a lot of validity behind it) only takes up valuable brainpower that could be spent focusing on refining a strategy that solves this problem, so that scarcity need not be a problem to begin with.
Imagine that you could be in the percentage of foreign-born professionals who actually find that golden job opportunity in your field, one where you didn’t need to learn the Swedish language to get a job offer, where your visa is sponsored, where you make enough money to support yourself and your family.
Your chances significantly increase (even if the odds seem against you) when you are making decisions and taking actions out of confidence. Showing up to an interview or networking meeting with feelings of desperation shows, even if you think you’re good at hiding it. This can be sensed with subtle facial expressions, a choice in words (like saying “I want to work for your company” vs. “Your company culture seems like a good fit for what I’m looking for”) or unconscious body language (arms folded, which can signal defensiveness, a need to protect, or unavailability vs. looking more relaxed). You may think you can focus hard and avoid these things if you’re careful, but in reality we are all just flawed humans and our humanness will shine through at some point. The best strategy you can have here is to create a mindset of abundance in the world, and it will come through automatically in your actions. That’s now energy saved that can be spent on more important things.
So, how does networking relate to feeling abundant? When you increase the number of people you network with, you begin to see patterns. You may receive the same compliments over and over around a particular topic – now you know this is a strength. You may receive more than one job offer or referral, which now takes you from no prospects to many to choose from – this is a feeling of abundance.
Even if the networking doesn’t immediately result in a job, it will increase your confidence knowing you’re planting seeds all over the place and eventually, one of them will grow into something worthwhile. It could show up at any moment in time. You could wake up tomorrow with a LinkedIn message of someone asking if you’re interested in a new position that just came up. By planting the seeds, there is always hope that things will suddenly shift as opposed to waiting on a small handful of applications to turn into a job opportunity (remember, you have a 10% chance of being chosen for an interview via online application without a referral. If you only applied for 10 jobs this month… chances are slim).