Few words are as dreaded in the job transition world as “networking!” Over the years, when I’ve talked about this process (highlighted in Step #4, Search, in our Crossroads Career workbook entitled, “You Are Created for Good Works”), many people actually have a visceral physical reaction to their perception of reaching out to complete strangers and trying to have a conversation that is supposed to just benefit them. With that perception, no wonder!
Shifting your preception of networking
At Crossroads Career, we work to help people shift that perception. First, building upon the three pillars of love that Crossroads Career structures our view of transition: Loving God completely, loving ourselves correctly, and loving others compassionately. We see networking as yet another way we can minister to others as we go through our daily lives of being ambassadors / disciples of Jesus Christ. When we look at every opportunity to interact with others as merely one more way to reflect Jesus’ love and truth to others, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be more missional in our approach.
Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I heard a pastor explain these verses several years ago, and he emphasized the word “go” in Hebrew meant “as you go,” not only to carry an intentional purpose to go, but simply as you go about your everyday work.
So…when we recast the networking process as a missional opportunity, AND it also may provide a personal benefit to furthering one’s search to get the right job, how can you NOT be eager to get after it!
Continuing to determine the right cultural fit
With that context, let’s go deeper into Clue #4 (yep, networking), to see how you can utilize that process to determine whether you’re the right cultural fit for that job you’re pursuing.
As presented in the book, “The 20 Minute Networking Meeting “ by Ballinger / Perez, which I consider to be the “gospel” of networking, the most weighted part of the 20 minutes outlined is the “Great Discussion.” It is grounded by the networking individual developing five key questions to drive the conversation over 12-15 minutes. I would frame these questions in the context of a casual, yet intentional conversation. While not an interview, thoughtful questions can provide significant insights as to whether you might be a good cultural fit within the organization you’re targeting.
Great questions to ask during a networking meeting
What could be some of those questions? I believe they can be fairly basic and do not need to be over-engineered. Here are a few that may give you some good perspectives:
- Could you share with me your views about the XYZ corporate culture?
- How have you seen / heard the XYZ core values being lived out by XYZ senior executives?
- How did XYZ manage their way through the Pandemic? How are they handling employees returning to the workplace?
- How are performance reviews handled at XYZ? (Core processes are usually good reflectors of corporate culture)
- Given what I’ve shared with you, or you’ve seen in my resume, do you think I could be a good cultural fit at XYZ?
Of course, remember that the answers to these questions from the networked individual are simply opinions and data points…they won’t give you declarative answers to whether you’ll be a good cultural fit. However, if you have three different networking conversations, and you see a pattern within the answers you receive, you’ll have a solid Clue #4 to leverage.
Remember the old adage: Network as if your life depended on it…because it does! At least from a job transition view! 🙂 Go get em!!
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.