How to Work the Room Like a Network Hustler
The word hustler, by definition, means an aggressively enterprising person, or a go-getter. And while the word generally has a negative connotation these days, I think hustlers have genius ways for getting what they want from a new person or situation. You probably decided to rehab your career because you wanted to be a go-getter. Corporate America is your turf, so hustle yourself into new conversations with people who can help you level up your personal brand or land your dream job.
Check out these four benefits of networking like a hustler:
- It builds your personal brand confidence because it gives you more opportunities to market and sells your experience, education and expertise through in-person conversations and online communication.
- Meeting new people can help you land a job at the company you’ve always wanted to work for.
- It provides more opportunities to exchange information with people who are smarter than you.
- It encourages you to surround yourself with like-minded professionals and leaders who can support you as you tackle your career challenges.
As a rookie networking hustler, you’ll probably make the same mistakes most of us made when we were starting out. It’s OK if you had problems building your network in the past. But try not to make the following four mistakes as a new networking hustler:
1. Don’t overpromote your resume. Instead, focus on building relationships with your new professional connections. You don’t want them to think you’re only interested in what they can do for you. If they ask for your resume, give them a copy. But please don’t force it on them; most likely they’ll review your LinkedIn profile to vet your personal brand and see if it’s worth passing your resume on to their hiring manager.
2. Don’t assume someone knows why you’re reaching out. Be clear about why you want to connect with a new person. If you need help in a certain area, be honest about it, but also be sure to let them know if you can help them in any way.
3. Don’t attend networking events just to collect business cards. It’s vital that you have a short conversation with someone to see if you have things in common. Only then should you ask for their contact information or business card. Make quality career connections, not quantitatively driven ones.
4. Don’t neglect to follow up. Too often, we get so busy that we forget to follow up after meeting an awesome person at an event or connecting with them online via LinkedIn. Hustlers are proactive and make a huge effort to follow up and follow through.
Hustlers always approach networking with a sense of urgency. Professional networking is a part of their daily life — it’s how they create a personal brand and develop a solid foundation of support. The key to networking like a hustler is consistency; doing it on a regular basis helps your network grow stronger.
Hustlers network with those they know
When you hear the phrase “network like a hustler,” you may think you have to connect with people you’ve never met, but networking means maintaining a relationship with your family, friends, co-workers and classmates. It goes beyond the first time you meet someone, requiring you to stay in touch with like-minded professionals online and in person.
Some of the best hustlers know how to get what they want from their existing contacts. I always get in touch with the co-workers who’ve already passed the IT certifications I’m attempting to study for or the professionals I used to work with who are now at companies where I’d love to work. I connect with them by first asking how they have been doing, personally and professionally. Always ask people about themselves first, and then ask for the information you need. People love to talk about their personal life and professional accomplishments. Then I talk to them about referring me to their company system for a job I found online, or I simply ask if their company is hiring. Win their hearts over first; then pick their brains.
Most professionals spend too much time applying to jobs that hundreds of other people are vying for when they should be maximizing their existing networks. Your current network is one of your more valuable resources, so make sure you tap into it on a regular basis. You never know what someone can do for you or you can do for someone else. Individuals within your current network can help you with the following issues:
- You can always ask a co-worker, classmate, mentor, or manager if you can list them as a professional reference on a job application or resume for a new role.
- Asking a college professor, professional, mentor or manager for a letter of recommendation for a job you’re applying to always helps your job application look more marketable.
- A referral for a job is one of the easiest ways to get a new role when you already know professionals who can refer your resume to their company’s system.
- Asking your peers or industry leaders who know a new industry standard, technology or certification for help is a great way to enhance your knowledge or pass a professional exam.
Hustlers network online
In this digital age, networking online is easy to implement. The key is using the internet strategically to maximize your online networking experience.
You can use the following tools to build your network and expand your knowledge:
- Social media. Connect with and learn from other professionals using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. Concentrate on the social media profiles of professionals in the same industry as you or in the industry you desire to get into.
- Virtual events. Attend professional virtual events, Facebook Live events and webinars to learn from industry leaders and connect with like-minded professionals. Connecting with attendees is crucial because they may be able to share new information with you or they may work at a company you’ve been wanting to apply to.
- Online learning platforms. Enroll in online courses at sites like Udemy or LinkedIn Learning, where you can connect with other professionals who’ve taken the course or left a course review. Introduce yourself to them by sending them a private message within the online learning tool or connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Blogs/websites. On personal websites or blogs of professionals, industry leaders and authors, you can learn more about their personal brand, expertise and contact information. Use the contact form or with their email address.
Hustlers network in person
My absolute favorite form of networking is in person because it’s a great way to make an emotional connection and an opportunity to identify whether someone can help you or you can help them. Hustlers who learn how to network in person will become unstoppable because they’ll master the art of selling themselves to strangers, co-workers and classmates. And when I say, “Sell yourself,” I really mean you’ll learn how to make connections and foster relationships with people from all walks of life. As you meet new people at work or at an event and hear more about their expertise and background, always have your hustling networking antenna tuned in so you can make a mental or written note to connect with them later.
Let’s break down the various hustling scenarios:
Workplace. Your job should be the first place you begin to build your professional network. When you start at a new job, think about who you should connect to, based on your career goals, and schedule networking coffee chats, lunch dates and solid office conversations. These interactions help you develop a professional relationship with co-workers, managers, clients and stakeholders.
Professional events. You’ll meet some truly awesome people at professional workshops, conferences and job fairs. When you attend events, introduce yourself to new people during the breaks, lunch and when you first arrive at the table. It’s also a great idea to attend job fairs, as getting your resume in front of hiring managers and recruiters in person helps you sell yourself faster than trying to do it online.
Personal/social events. It may feel awkward talking about where you work or what you do at personal and social events, but you may meet new people who can add value to your job search. These events are more relaxed, so you can be more transparent about your career needs and more easily pass on information to someone else.
Colleges/educational institutions. No matter where you are in your education or training, connecting and exchanging contact information with your classmates is a good start. If you’re in a class with people who are developing personal brands similar to yours, or if you have an awesome instructor with a personal brand you admire, connect with them immediately. Deans, professors and instructors are a key part of your professional network because they can always teach you something new about your industry and they may know industry leaders who are hiring.