Maddy and I were reviewing her plans to begin reaching out to people who might help her in her job search. We were aiming for the folks I call “Champions,” those people who like her, enjoyed working with her, and thought highly of her professional skills.

In the middle of brainstorming who that might be, she said, “But what do I even say? I haven’t been in touch with him in 3 years, and now out of the blue I reach out to ask for help? That just feels, ugh…”

It does. Especially if all you can think of to say is, “Do you know of anyone who is hiring?” Ugh, indeed.

My response to Maddy was to change the way she looked at the process. If you are imagining that the communication is transactional, in a “Hey, can you help me out?” sort of way, it will feel uncomfortable for sure.

But what if you looked at this type of networking as a chance to reconnect with people who have already helped you? What if you reached out and simply said “Thank you?”

What if you looked at this initial message as one that would allow you to re-engage with someone you wish you had kept up with? What if you actually had something to offer them – like reminding them of how much you valued them as a co-worker, or how amazing they are at what they do?

Doesn’t that feel better? Of course, in the conversation you’ll get around to what you’re doing, and you can mention what you’re looking for. Maybe they’ll have a suggestion, maybe they won’t. And that’s okay! You’ve already increased your odds of getting a good lead or an introduction by 100% just by saying hello and thank you. And, you’ll feel so much better. And you’ll have made someone’s day.

Cheers to your career!

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