Oftentimes, when working with a client who is exploring something new (a bigger role, a career change, etc), they lament that they don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing for this shift. This is a wonderful time to engage those who already know and like you.
In this situation, there are three ways to think about your network:
- Been there/Done that – These are the folks in your network who are already doing the thing you are interested in. They’ve made a career pivot. They’ve navigated a layoff. They’ve taken a big stretch assignment.
- Have Wisdom to Share – These are the folks in your network who have a skill or expertise that you need to understand. This could be the person who has experience with a platform or a framework or a certification that is important for where you’re headed.
- Their Network – While they may not have “been there/done that” or “have the wisdom” in the area you need, they have their own network.
In the first two cases, this is as simple as reaching out and asking. It could be as easy as a message that says something like, “I’m considering throwing my hat in the ring for a promotion. This would be a great opportunity for me, and it would be a bit of a leap from where I am now. I know you’ve taken some big steps in your career. Would you be open to chatting with me about your experience?” In my experience, most people are honored to have been asked and, if their schedules permit, will find time to speak with you.
For the third case, I recommend being targeted in your outreach. Rather than blasting to your entire network, “I’m looking to speak with someone who is familiar with OKRs.” and hope that someone will come forward. Perhaps do a bit of research. Which organizations are known for using OKRs? Once you have a list of organizations, you can run searches in LinkedIn – one for the term OKRs and others for the organizations you’ve found. Where you see a second-degree connection, you can reach out to your contact.
Even then, I would suggest that you make it easy for them. First, take the time to explain why it is important to you (see the first sample message above as an example) and then offer them draft language for an introduction. You want to make it as simple as, “copy/paste/personalize.” If it’s quick, it’s more likely to happen.
Finally, if someone does make an introduction for you, please remember to circle back to them after the conversation to thank them for opening their network to you.