Antony Starks / Flickr
Written by BFAN Network Team
Today it seems every other article is about how and when to network effectively. With the state of the economy, these articles are becoming more popular as people are hoping to network their way to their dream job.
One thing that I think we are missing is that networking, much like charity, begins at home. In our effort to attend the right events and rub shoulders with important people, we have overlooked a large and very important group.
Do you remember those “Uncles” and “Aunties” that you greet out of respect and never speak to again? Yeah I’m talking about them. It’s time to stop rolling our eyes and actually listen to what they have to say.
Here are seven reasons to start networking with our family friends today!
- They owe you – Remember all those years of free babysitting or childcare in church? Remember all the times we were ‘voluntold’ to help out at one of their events? It’s time to cash in on all those favors and make this relationship a little more two sided. Ha ha! Okay that was a joke but really. Of course you didn’t do all those things expecting something back. But if doing them created a great relationship, now could be the time to turn that relationship into a job
- They already know and love you – Unlike networking with complete strangers, you don’t have to build up their opinion about you from scratch. They have watched you grow up into the young adult you are now and already think the world of you. Most strangers you network with might not be willing to put their reputation on the line for you. On the other hand, our “Aunties and Uncles” will tell their referrals that you are the best worker they know on this planet based on all your informal work experience with them. A good referral from the right person will definitely go a long way
- They are willing to help – Although a lot of us have been brought up to think that nobody out there wants good things for you (Flashback to when you weren’t allowed to tell anyone you were leaving the country for fear of people trying to ruin it?), I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Just by talking to a few family friends I’ve found that they are very willing to help out and even end up doing more than I ask
- A ‘network within a network’ – Even if you aren’t too familiar with a particular person, chances are they know someone who knows someone who knows your family. Most people are willing to help you out based on this alone. If you are targeting someone in particular, you can even ask your parents or family friends to help make the connection. Some might say this feels like cheating. I say you’re simply using every resource available to you!
- Free Advice – Even if that particular person isn’t able to connect you to a job, they are almost always willing to give you a lot of advice. They have been in the corporate world for many years that we are just entering or trying to enter. At the very least they can tell you the mistakes they made so you can avoid doing those things.
- It’s a great way to hone your skills – Networking with people you know can be very good practice for talking to complete strangers. You can get a feel of what questions to ask so by the time you get around to networking with strangers, your confidence is able to shine through.
- It can be fun – Networking with family friends doesn’t have to be boring. You can find prominent and well connected people at various types of social and professional events. Of course you have to choose the event wisely based on your needs. A word of caution: please don’t interrupt them while they are trying to eat in the name of networking. Your efforts will be in vain. But networking at an event surrounded by friends and family, food and good music sounds like an awesome time to me.
Of course as with all networks, quality is always more important than quantity. I’m not encouraging you to call every family friend you know and invite them out to lunch. I’m just saying, you might not have to look too far to find your next professional connection.
Good luck =)