Find Your Dream Job, Episode 160:
Networking Without the Ick Factor, with Halelly Azulay
Airdate: October 10, 2018
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List.
I believe that to find a job you can love, you must stop spending all day on job boards. That’s because as many as 80 percent of all jobs never get advertised. To find these hidden positions, you must learn how to look for work.
Here’s the good news: job hunting is like any skill. You can get good at it with study and practice.
This show helps you do this. Every Wednesday on Find Your Dream Job I talk to a different career expert. We discuss tactics and tips you can use to find your dream job.
Our guest this week is Halelly Azulay. She’s the CEO at TalentGrow. It’s a consulting company that helps develop leaders and teams.
Halelly is also an expert in networking. She says networking is a critical career skill everybody must master. She knows how to do it without making you feel icky. Let’s be candid: Ick is probably the first word that comes to mind when I say networking, isn’t it?
Halelly says the reason many of us react that way is because of how we think about networking. We often see it as a transaction. You do something for me, but only if I do something for you. In other words, tit for tat.
Successful networkers do the exact opposite, says Halelly. They aren’t takers. They are givers.
They think about others first, not about themselves. They know how to build a network with integrity and authenticity. According to Halelly, networking is all about relationships and service to others. When you take this approach, she says, you create ties that benefit everybody involved.
Halelly also offers practical advice in our interview about how to network, even if you’re shy or an introvert. She says that the people who can help you the most in your career often may be the people you know least.
Want to learn more? Listen in now at the Mac’ List studio as I interview Halelly Azulay about how to network without the ick factor.
Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Halelly Azulay.
She is CEO at TalentGrow. It’s a consulting company that develops leaders and teams. She’s an expert in leadership, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and authentic networking.
Halelly is the author of two books, Employee Development on a Shoestring and Strength to Strength: How Working From Your Strengths Can Help You Lead a More Fulfilling Life. She hosts the weekly podcast, The TalentGrow Show.
She joins us today from Calabasas, California.
Halelly, thanks for being on the show.
Hey, Mac, thanks for inviting me.
Yeah, I’m excited about our topic because I love networking, but I also recognize when people hear that word, sometimes they have a very negative reaction. I want to dive into that, but first, let’s tackle a very basic question. How can networking help people get ahead in their career?
Just the fact that you said the sentence, “I love networking” puts you in maybe the one percent.
Probably, I think you’re right.
I think that most people would say, “I hate networking” because it gets a bad rep from people who misuse it and then teach others that that’s what networking means. I think that networking can absolutely help people in their career when they shift their mindset and their definition. Then everything else changes from there and you don’t have to hate it anymore.
What benefits can people see from networking in their career?
Yeah, if I may, let me just say what my definition is because I think that, again, you can only benefit from something that you value. I view networking as building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. When you think about that, building relationships, that’s something that everyone already does. Everybody knows how to do that, but everybody practices it to different extents. Maybe some people don’t practice it as mindfully or as intentionally, but when people do begin to do networking in this definition, more deliberately, more mindfully, they can expand the network of people that they are connected with. People who know who they are, who value them, and want to help them. They can expand the number of people that they can add value to and help. They can expand exponentially, the number of opportunities that come their way.
Opportunities can mean, many in your audience are looking for a job, looking for ways to get into a new career, or to re-enter the workplace, or to find a different kind of role, maybe get promoted. Also, opportunities can be in terms of resources and information. For example, a lot of what we need to do in our jobs to succeed is to know where to find information, or what information can help us do a better job. You can’t know everything but when you know more people in a more diverse kind of group of people, then you know who to ask. By extension, you know everything.
A good network can lead to insights, more information, opportunities, promotions, and more open doors.
But it has to be done as you say, authentically. Tell us more about what authentic relationships look like.
Yeah, so the flip side is almost easier in terms of what it’s not. We can all envision the situations that we’ve probably experienced where we felt like somebody that we’d just met, or maybe somebody that we’ve known is trying to take advantage of us. It feels like they’re in it for themselves only. They don’t really care about us, or our needs, or what we’re up to, or really want to know very much about what’s going on with us, but they’re really thinking about the opportunities that they’re trying to uncover for themselves, and how they can maybe use you to help them. When that’s one-sided, and often very transactional kind of relationship approach that someone uses, relationship I would use loosely, because that might work okay in that one transaction, but most of us would try to avoid having a relationship with someone once we’ve experienced them to be this way.
That just leaves such a bad taste in our mouths, if you will. But if we think authentically about who we have enjoyed connecting with, and what are the relationships that have brought us the most joy and the most mutual value, those are relationships where we want to help that person. We genuinely care about them and like them. We have common interests, we can speak about topics of interest to both of us. Maybe something that they’re super passionate about is just interesting to us. Maybe we don’t want to do it too or care about it personally, but we care to know what’s going on with them and how they’re doing.
When we have those kinds of relationships that are give and take, of long-term view versus transactional short-term view, we enjoy those and that feels genuine. That feels real. That’s what I mean by authentic networking.
It does and I’m glad you started with a definition of the negative because you said it very eloquently but it can be summed up in one three letter word, can’t it? Ick.
People do have that reaction and I think listeners will identify with what you just described. I think the key here is that the person who does the icky networking if you even want to call it networking, the ick factor is that it’s transactional. It’s tit for tat, isn’t it?
Yeah, and there were some amazing studies that were done where people in one group were given a story about networking to read, and then they were given a puzzle where they had to use letters to fill in words. Other people were not given a story related to networking, they were given either no story or some other story. When they filled in the words, filled in the missing letters, the people who had read a story about networking put in words that had to do with cleaning products and the other people didn’t.
The bad rep, icky networking, makes you feel dirty. It actually, literally makes you feel dirty and make you want to wash your hands with soap and shampoo and stuff. It is very unsavory and we try to avoid it. This is where people say, “I hate networking.” What they’re thinking about is that ick factor that they’re trying to avoid because not only do you not enjoy it when someone does it to you, but the reverse is also true. If you think that’s what networking is, and that’s how you’ve learned to do it, then when it’s time for you to look for opportunities, and you’re told, “Oh you should network”, then you take that to be a direction to go be that kind of person. Go do that to other people and some people will put on their belt, they’ll get their gumption up to go be icky with people. But that doesn’t work.
It doesn’t, and I find that the people who are the most successful in life but also professionally are the people who are authentic.
We’ve talked about bad networking, now let’s talk about the right way to do it and your advice. Where should people start? Because I think to your point, if people have this idea that it’s something icky they’re not going to have any energy, they’re going to drag their feet, they’re just not going to want to do it because it doesn’t feel right. What’s the right way to do it? How can people get started?
Yeah, and I have so much advice that goes all the way from super philosophical to all the way down to nitty-gritty tactical. I want to try to cover some of each here.
First I would like to say let’s make sure that because we recognize that long-term, mutually beneficial relationships are built over time. They’re built through many interactions. Some of them in depth, and some of them very light and short. Then we must let go of this idea that networking equals networking events. In fact, you could successfully network without ever attending a networking event. I know sometimes it’s a necessary evil, you just have to go. Your job sends you, or it just makes sense to do that sometimes. Networking can include going to events, but events do not equal networking. That opens up a lot of opportunities for a lot of different kinds of activities to be part of your networking strategy.
The other thing I’d like to say is that since it’s long term you have to recognize that networking is something you don’t just do when you’re looking for a job. In fact, it’s best if you don’t start doing it only when you’re looking for a job because what ends up happening is that it puts you in a very transactional mode, but it also puts you in a position where you’re seeking to get something from others. You might, even inadvertently, come across as one of those people who’s only looking out for themselves. That’s how you’re going to potentially seem to others because you’re looking for your next opportunity.
If you think about networking as something you should do all the time then my biggest suggestion is, always start by giving first, and giving often.
You want to try to be the giver in the relationship so that when you need to ask for something because that’s appropriate to do in long-term relationships, you are not the person who’s first asking for something, or always asking for something. I’ll pause here for any questions you might have, but I have lots more to say.
These are three very powerful ideas. I want to commend you for bringing them up because to your point about events, I think that for many listeners, that’s how they think of networking. We’re going to talk about other things you can do besides go to mixers, or conferences, or happy hours.
I also like your point about thinking about building these relationships throughout your life and your career, not just when it might be advantageous to your job search.
Finally, your emphasis on giving, I think is so important because I certainly see this in the professionals I know that are successful, and candidly I’ve seen it in my own career. When you give without any expectation of getting in return, you get so much back, don’t you?
Yes, and that abundance mentality, that you can call this, says that you give first, you give often, and you give without counting. You give without keeping chits. If you think about it, how do other people experience you when you’re like that? When you have that kind of a mentality? They experience you as someone who’s generous, and someone who’s there for them.
Then, when and if you ever need anything, those people are going to be clamoring to help you because in some ways you’ve created a psychological debt. Again, you shouldn’t keep tabs, but people tend to do that a little bit. If you’re the one who’s been giving and helping and you need something, people are going to be really happy to have the opportunity to pay you back for all you’ve done for them.
It’s just a very, very good approach to building relationships. I would love for listeners to think about what giving might mean when we talk about it. Sometimes people get bogged down by, “I don’t have anything to offer. I’m looking for a job. I don’t have a job to give. What can I give?” There are so many things of value that you can create. We can talk about what are some things of value that you could give.
Okay, we’re going to pause for a moment, and when we come back I do want to talk about specific things people can give. I also want to talk about mindset, because you mentioned an abundant mindset, and the opposite of that is the scarcity mindset. I’ve seen your blog posts on that topic and I want to explore that a little bit more too.
Stay with us, we’ll be back in just a moment, and we’ll talk more about how you can network without feeling that ick factor. Stay with us.
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Now, let’s get back to the show!
Before the break, we were talking about generosity and mindset. I want to talk about your specific suggestions of how people can give to others, but let’s talk about mindset. You mentioned the importance of having an abundant mindset. The opposite of that is, of course, the scarcity mindset. Can you tell us about those two points of view?
Sure. Scarcity means thinking of life as a zero-sum game. If I get something, that means somebody is losing something. If I give something, that means I don’t have it anymore. While this might be true in some very narrow circumstances where you could say, “Okay, this is a zero-sum game, there’s only one winner possible.” For example, in sports, we don’t have a medal for everyone, just one team wins.
But in relationships, the good news is that there is really enough for everybody and you don’t have to ever worry about running out. What are we talking about here? Being helpful, giving value, giving compliments, giving advice, giving your time. Yeah, time is finite and you should be careful about how you spend it, but ultimately if you give someone some of your time, it’s not like now they have to think about, “Oh gosh I owe Halelly thirty minutes. She gave me thirty minutes, now I have to give her thirty minutes back” because it doesn’t work in such a finite way like that.
There is so much opportunity out there and I definitely know, and it sounds like you do too Mac, that the payback is sometimes unexpected and comes from unexpected places. It comes at unexpected times, and at times it’s so circuitous that you wonder, “Oh my god. How did that even work out?” In the long term, everything comes back to you in what you need, where you need it, and maybe from whom you need it. Maybe it’s not from the person you helped but somebody else. If everybody views the world this way, then it will actually work out.
Well, let’s talk about giving. What suggestions do you have for listeners about how to be a good giver, either during a job search or in a career, or other ways they could do it in other parts of their lives too? But with our focus on job hunting and careers, what tactical suggestions do you have for folks?
Yeah, okay. One of the easiest ways for you to give is to give compliments. Give appreciation. Think about people that you already know, and think about when the last time was that you showed them that you care about them, or that you appreciate them, or that you recognize their work, or that you share something that they’ve done with other people. You and I put out a podcast; we both know that there are lots more people listening than people sharing. If more of the people that value your podcast shared it with others, that would help you. You would appreciate that so much. Or them giving you a review, going into Apple podcasts and writing you a short review. It doesn’t take very much time, it’s so easy to do, but that’s something that differentiates you from many others who are thinking kind things but aren’t expressing them.
A very easy thing to do is just start thinking about who you can thank, who can you recognize, whose work can you share, how can you positively comment on something that someone else worked hard to do and show them that you value it?
What kind of benefits could listeners expect to see by adopting that behavior?
If you think about how people, in terms of psychology, you tend to want to reciprocate. We have mirror neurons in our brain that cause us to want to mirror the behavior that we receive from someone. If someone shows you kindness, you want to give them kindness back. Again, it’s not explicit. You don’t think about this like a mathematical, methodical way, but your brain is wired because we’re a social species. Our brain is wired for reciprocity. You are creating a need in others to pay you back. Again, I don’t mean that you should manipulate people, or that you should do this in some kind of conniving way. I’m saying that we can feel comfortable giving value, giving recognition, giving appreciation to others because it’s not going to run out. We’re not going to not have anymore thank yous to give out if we give someone a thank you. For that person, we just came across their radar, but we didn’t come across their radar as, “Oh, that’s Halelly. She’s always asking for something.” No, I came across their radar as, “Oh wow. Halelly just out of the blue emailed me and said thank you”, or, “Good job on such and such.” The next time I interact with you I remember you as the giver.
If you do this again, and you do this again when it’s time for… Let’s say, I think of you more, I think of you more readily, I know more about you, I want to ask about you more, and you might share with me in a conversation when I ask back about “What are you up to, what’s going on with you?” You might say, “Well, I’m actually looking for my next job. This is what I’m looking to do.” I’ll say, “Oh my gosh, you know I know someone who is a great connection. Let me connect you.”
Let’s talk about job searching and networking in an authentic way. For someone who is pursuing a particular kind of opportunity, maybe they want to work in a particular company, or change careers, what kind of authentic networking can they do that’s going to help advance that, while again, being generous to others?
Well, one of the things that is coming out of the world of network science is the idea that most opportunities for people, especially in job searches and things like this, actually come from what is called your “Dormant ties”. Your dormant ties are…think about a target, a circle within a circle. Inside of the circle is your core network, so the twelve to eighteen people that you interact with the most. Then you have your close ties, they are the people who are the next closest to you. Then you have your dormant ties, and they are like your weak ties. Those are people that you haven’t talked to in a while, you know them but maybe you haven’t talked in a couple years, maybe they were your job buddy at your previous job, not the last job.
When you reach out to your dormant ties, the statistics show that they are the ones that are most likely to give you helpful advice, or opportunities for your next job, or really great connections. What I would suggest if you are looking for a job, is to start rekindling connections with your dormant ties. Now I think this should be really good news for some of the people that are like, “Oh my god, I don’t want to go to a networking event”, or, “I don’t want to send out cold letters to people I’ve never met. Or to just answer ads in some listing somewhere.” You don’t need to connect with people you’ve never met; this is actually just reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Someone who knows you, and you know them. Just saying, “Hi, what’s going on? I was just thinking about you.”
You can call them, you can email them, you can find them on social networking and connect there. Just reach out and start a conversation just to catch up. That’s something that all of us know how to do, it’s not that hard. You already know something about them, you already have some kind of kinship, it’s just gotten a little cold. Statistically, those are the people that are most likely going to be able to connect you with your next opportunity. But don’t reach out and ask for something. You reach out to check in. You reach out to say hello. You reach out with kindness, generosity, and no expectations, but you also know that by rekindling that connection you are on their radar now. By you asking them curious questions about themselves and just showing interest, they are very likely to reciprocate. That will be your in to talk about what you’re up to and what you’re looking for.
It’s as simple as reaching out and doing something you probably already enjoy like just having a cup of coffee or sharing some information you know that might be useful to this colleague or contact.
Before I lose this thought, I just want to touch again on generosity. I met a fellow, a colleague who teaches his interns something that I think is very wise. Every summer he has several interns and in addition to their regular responsibilities, he asks them to sit down every Friday afternoon and send three thank you notes to people that they’ve met or worked with during the course of that summer internship. I think that’s such a powerful example of both generosity and what a wonderful thing to teach somebody who’s just beginning their career.
Those are so important. Again, it seems so obvious, I bet every single person who just listened to you is not saying, “Oh my god, I never thought about that before.” I bet you every single person listening is saying, “Yeah, I know you’re supposed to.” But if we asked you, “Did you really do that anytime recently?” Most people are too busy.
I love that idea, and I kind of liken that type of activity to brushing teeth. Do you think about it like brushing teeth?
It’s something you make a habit of and you do on a regular basis.
Exactly, and when you habituate it… You know we don’t brush teeth because we eagerly await the moment we can finally brush our teeth. I mean I think there are some people like that, but they have other issues. Most people understand that there is a long-term benefit to it. It’s not a big deal, it doesn’t hurt, it’s not that hard, and once you habituate it, you don’t have to think about it or make a decision. It’s not extra effort, you just do it.
You could take almost any small activity, like writing thank you notes, and habituate it like tooth brushing.
Yeah, it’s an excellent tip. Full disclosure, I’ll confess that you will get a thank you note after the show because my colleague, Jessica, has incorporated that into our work process, but I write those notes with sincerity and gratitude.
I would also encourage listeners to think for a moment about the handwritten cards they get, the thank you notes. I find that many people hold onto those cards for a long time, don’t they?
Yeah, and it makes a lasting impression, and it definitely differentiates you. I think it’s a lost art, writing. How much mail do we get now? Very little, so if you get something hand addressed in the mail, you’re going to open it, right? It’s going to be unique. One other thing you can do that is similar to it, there’s a guy called Adam Rifkin and his claim to fame is, he started a couple of startups, they’re very successful, but his claim to fame is that he is the most networked man in Silicon Valley. One of the things that he does, his trick, because he says that he is an introvert, is that he has five-minute favors. He does five-minute favors every day. That is very similar to that thank you note, or my generosity points that I’ve shared so far.
One other thing that he does a lot is that he makes an introduction between two people that are in his network that don’t know each other but should. Again, this is something that is a kindness. You’re not asking for anything. You’re giving two different people a connection that you think is of value to them. You shouldn’t just randomly connect people because that’s just a burden. But if there is some reason why those two people should connect but they don’t know each other, you just helped two people with one fell swoop. It takes almost no time.
The one upgrade I would suggest is to try and make it what I call a double opt-in introduction, rather than a hot potato introduction, which is the name I’ve called it.
Tell us the difference between the two.
A hot potato introduction and we’ve all received this, is where you just throw the hot potato over to the other person’s lap and leave it there. Let’s say I meet someone I think you should know, Mac, and what I do is I tell that person, “Oh my god, you should meet Mac. You guys should definitely connect”, and I send you an introduction copying that person and saying, “Mac, meet Joe. Here’s the reason why I think Joe could really value meeting you. I hope you connect.”
Now let’s just say that for you, it’s not a good time, or you have a personal issue taking up your energy, or you don’t really think it’s a good connection, or for whatever reason, you don’t welcome this. I’ve just thrown it over to you, and now you actually have a new to-do that you didn’t ask for and you might not value. If we think about giving things, giving gifts, giving generously, it should be something that is of value to the other person.
A double opt-in would be, when I tell Joe I think he should meet you, I’ll say, “Let me double check with Mac that this is a good time”, that this makes sense before I make that introduction. Then I take that one extra action where I reach out to you, Mac, and I say, “Hey Mac, I know Joe. This is why I think you should connect.” I should lay it out in terms of what’s in it for you, for both of you. Then, “Would that be okay?” Now you get to tell me, “You know Halelly, I really don’t want to.” I don’t put you in that awkward position of now having to deal with Joe, having never asked for it, like, “Why did you just do this to me, Halelly?” Again, it helps to make sure it’s a pure give rather than some kind of chore.
It’s a good distinction and I know our listeners, and certainly you and I have been on the receiving end of both sets of introductions. While the hot potato is well-intentioned, we want to be responsive. Sometimes we, as you say, have other priorities.
Well, it’s been a terrific conversation. What I’m gleaning from it is that networking can take a lot of different forms, if you’re going to do it well it needs to be authentic, true to yourself. It doesn’t have to be about events, though that can certainly be part of your approach. It needs to be a habit that you develop early in life and practice throughout your career. Is that a pretty good summary?
I think it’s a great summary, and I would just say that, because I know some of your listeners are not early in life, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to start. There’s always something you can add, all of us have the necessary skill set.
Yeah, agreed. Well, thanks for the great conversation. Now tell us, Halelly, what’s coming up next for you?
Well, when I started my podcast three and a half years ago, it was twice a month. Then as you mentioned, in 2018 I moved it to a weekly format. That’s been keeping me super busy and excited, trying to grow my output, and grow the reach. That’s been extremely fun, it also allows me to play with other kinds of formats other than just the interview.
I continue to enjoy traveling. I travel around the country and sometimes even to other countries where I speak at conferences about topics related to leadership, communication skills, and networking. In fact, just before we start speaking today I was working on a proposal for a conference where I’m going to speak to a couple of my mentors about how to start a business for some people in our field.
It’s never a dull moment, but when you do the work you love then it’s always fun to do the work.
Great. Well, I know people can learn more about you by visiting your website, and that’s www.talentgrow.com. I think you have a special offer for our listeners this week, don’t you, Halelly?
Yes, I do. I would love to give listeners a free guide, it’s called, Ten Ways to Become A More Engaging Communicator. A lot of times people feel like, “How do you start conversations? How do you sustain conversations? How do you communicate in an interview or in other situations in a way that engages other people and draws them in?” This is part of what I teach in a lot of workshops that I do, so I’d love to share that with them. It’s going to be over at the dedicated URL, talentgrow.com/dreamjob.
Again, in addition to loving networking, I actually enjoy reading books about the art of conversation too, so I look forward to that pdf.
Thank you again for joining us, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.
I really enjoyed it, Mac, I really appreciate you inviting me and having the opportunity to share some of my ideas with your listeners, to whom I wish lots of career success in their journey.
Thank you, Halelly. Take care.
That was a terrific conversation with Halelly Azulay. I really enjoyed her warmth and she’s also a great listener. I loved her points about the importance of relationships and I loved the way we started with what networking shouldn’t be and how, in fact, that’s how many people think of it.
I know we’ll include several blog posts that she has written in the show notes that provide more insights into how to do networking well and build these relationships in an authentic way. She’s got great content too, about networking for introverts and shy people, with some very practical tips. Check out the show notes.
In addition to seeing people face to face, or at work, a lot of networking happens online these days. If you want to do it right, you really need to pay attention to your social accounts. One way to help you do that is to check out our free guide How to Wow and Woo Employers Online. It will lay out how you can put your best foot forward online, but also how to engage with people and be of service to them. Go to macslist.org/wow.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.
Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Catalina Rojas. She’ll explain how to negotiate a nonprofit salary.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!