A “FRANK” Approach to Networking

by on February 26, 2014

social network of African American businesswomanAs more and more individuals entered job searches over the last five years, they quickly learned that putting together a resume’, sending it to prospective employers, and expecting to be called in for an interview was not enough.  Ultimately those who want to move their search forward in any endeavor, (whether it is finding a new job, developing a new business, wanting to become involved with a charitable endeavor, etc.), learn they must build a network of contacts.  For those who have been involved in small or entrepreneurial businesses, have been in job search recently or who are naturally attuned to the value of networking, this is a concept easy to accept.

However, for those who have been in one occupation or company for a long time or never needed to network much before, this is something not easy to accept.  Some will state, “I don’t know anyone”?  Others will say, with whom am I supposed to network?  I was at a presentation recently when the presenter indicated one of the earliest pieces of advice she received in building her network came from an owner of a search firm.  His guidance was to build your network through your “FRANKSSS”.  As she continued in explaining what one’s FRANKSSS are, I became absolutely enamored with the recommendation.  I knew I had to share it with my readers.

All of us have FRANKSSS, even if we don’t readily think about it.  The F in FRANKSSS stands for your Friends.   The R stands for one’s Relatives, while the A are the Acquaintances (those people you do know and meet on occasion but who are not part of your “inner circle”).  The N in FRANKSSS is one’s Neighbors.  The K is for all readers who are parents.  If you are a parent you have Kids.  While the Kids themselves may not be able to provide you a lead toward that next opportunity or meeting you seek, the parents of their playmates may be able to do so.  Those events you take your children to, (soccer games, parties, camping trips, etc.), where you get to know the other parents, are excellent networking sources for you.  The fact there are 3 S’s in FRANKSSS, indicates there are three other often overlooked networking sources in your life.  The first S is for the Service Providers you frequent.  In the last year I have heard multiple stories of hair stylists who upon hearing a client was in job search, connect that client with another one of their clients who was searching for a candidate in that same field.  Service Providers come into contact with a wide variety of individuals, and many get to know those clients inner most issues and feelings.  As such, they are a great resource in connecting people who can help each other together.  The second S is for Social and Religious organizations.  Often we look at the individuals we meet in such groups only from the perspective as being a member of that group.  We don’t always explore who they are, who they know, what they may know, etc.  It is another strong networking opportunity.  The final “S” stands for the person that is the closest in most of our lives.  It is your Spouse or Significant Other.  While your Spouse or Significant Other may know the company where you worked, and may know your job title, they don’t always know exactly what you did in that type of work.  Additionally, they have a whole set of contacts (their co-workers, their friends who in turn have spouses, their clubs and organizations, etc.) that may have contacts that are the type of people with whom you need to connect.  Again, it is looking at those close to you from a different perspective than we usually see them, which is important in developing and growing your network.

Having a network of contacts available to you is one thing.  Working that network so as to build on those contacts is something entirely different.  It requires the willingness to be clear on whom you are and with whom you are looking to connect.  It means not only looking at the people you know, but being bold enough to ask whom they may know that matches the description of the type of connections you seek.  It is being thankful for a connection or a suggestion even though it does not pan out or directly lead to your end result.  Networking is a process that takes time, involves going through many steps and which is not usually in a “straight line”.  However, it is a process at which all of us can become better.

So, if you have been putting off networking, feel that you don’t know the “right people,” or believe that networking is something that others do, think again?  Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we all have our network of contacts with which to start, and which we can grow.  It all goes back to “FRANKLY” if we are willing to open our eyes and see and acknowledge that fact.

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