Kevin Kermes: This is a question we get a lot, how do you approach your network to let them know that you’re looking without appearing desperate?

Olivia Gamber: Yeah, great question. This comes up frequently. A lot of people have neglected their network, I mean, I’m guilty of it too, but if you think about maybe you’ve had your head down in a job for the last 10 years and now, all of a sudden, you’ve got to make a change. You have a great network, a lot of our clients have been in the industry over 10 years, they’ve got in some cases, hundreds of really good contacts, but they don’t know how to come at that when you haven’t talked to somebody in years. Why would they help you?

I think the biggest mistake people make is to immediately let them know that they’re looking and the generic response, “Hey, I’m looking.” It’s just leading with the question that it just comes across really desperate, it comes across cold, and most people are not going to even know how to help you because in many cases, they don’t even know what you’re up to or what you’re looking for.

I think the best approach is, think about how you would treat a friend. People like to separate business and personal relationships, but I treat them pretty similar. If you haven’t talked to someone, even a family member in a while, are you immediately going to just ask them for money if you need a loan? Let’s just give that example. No, you’re going to ask them, “How are your kids? How are you doing? Let’s catch up, I haven’t talked to you in a while.” Eventually, you’re going to start to get to what you need, but you’re going to warm up the contact first right? I treat it the same with my business connections. I don’t know. What do you think Kevin? How would you approach it?

Kevin Kermes: Yeah, so I think you hit the nail on the head. First of all, it’s a long game and it’s about developing a relationship. It’s not transactional, so the best thing to lead with, and this is extremely appropriate for introverts and you and I feel the same way, and that is to figure out what’s important to that person that you’re reconnecting with, or you’re connecting with for the first time. That, number one, becomes your collateral to carry forward. If I know what you need, and I want to continue to nurture a relationship with you, what better thing for me to take out as I need other people, than to know what Olivia needs so I can come back to you and help connect you and deepen the relationship, and help build a true relationship.

That hits in on the second piece which, so many times, we hear this a lot of times from clients, we hear this countless times whenever we talk about relationship or networking advice through the emails we send out. When you send out emails to more than 50,000 people, you get a lot of responses right? A lot of people will say, “Well I tried that and it didn’t work.” When you really boil it down, what I tried that and it didn’t work comes down to is, I went to the people that I knew and I asked them, and I didn’t get what it is that I needed.

Number one, a study was done last year by LinkedIn where they found, it was somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of jobs were found in the third and fourth level connections. The people who are immediately around you, if your expectation is that they are going to be the individuals that lead you to your next opportunity, that’s a false prophet. It’s not going to happen.

Olivia Gamber: Sorry, I’ve cut in, but this really reminded me. I just had a conversation with a woman two days ago. Director level, just got laid off, she did the exact same thing, “I already asked, I have no one else to network with,” but that’s exactly what she did. She asked them for what do you know about? That’s not what you should be asking about.

Kevin Kermes: It also dovetails in with if you’re looking, particularly for people who are looking at shifting industries and they say, “Well I don’t know anyone in that industry,” so they make this assumption that because they don’t know anybody in that industry, none of the people who they know, know people. I’ll give you an example. A good friend of ours is participating in a program called BreakLine which is run for veterans, Stanford puts it on, and one of the parts of this 30 day program that he’s participating in, he gets to spend some time with Andreessen Horowitz which is an enormous VC out on the West Coast. He’s going to be talking to both principles. Well it turns out that the friend who was here this weekend, who incidentally I wanted to connect him with, used to work for and was the chief of staff for the mayor of DC who now is, I don’t know if he’s a partner, but he’s working at Andreessen Horowitz, and also has these even further connections. I sent him a message this weekend and I said, “I’m going to get you hooked up with this guy while you’re out there.”

I would never have expected that our friends who were here this weekend knew anybody that worked at that firm. It was a totally random conversion that we had, so dig a little bit more. I know we’ll talk about this in other videos, but you’ve got to make sure that you have a compelling and an easy to digest and transport message to give to other people too.