Updated: Oct 29
When you’re lucky enough to hear from two master networkers, take lots of notes! At a recent #HangoutHabits, Adriane Musuneggi, Senior Director for Product, and Britt Provost, Executive VP for People and Culture, from Accolade addressed our community’s burning questions about networking, how they’ve utilized relationships in unexpected ways, how that’s influenced their careers, and their top tips to leverage your connections while job searching. Here’s a short excerpt from that conversation, with our favorite takeaways:
How do you rely on your network without feeling transactional? This can be so hard when you’re looking for a job and don’t necessarily have the time to cultivate long term relationships.
Adriane: “I don't love the work of actually networking, to me it's really about humans helping humans and connecting with other humans. So, when I think about trying to build those relationships, I think about leading with authenticity and personalization. This is a little bit more tactical: one of the things that I do to help me is when I meet people or I interact with people, I actually have a file that I keep. I keep a couple of notes about each of those individuals, things that might not be things that are around the value that they provide to the relationship but personal things, like their son or daughter does soccer or they're interested in something outside of work. So then I have those reasons to touch back later so that when I do need to reach out, I can reach out more with authenticity rather than, "Here's my ask." So that's really helped me.”
Britt: “I don't think of it as networking, I think of it as building relationships. So, if you're going to go in and just make your ask in the first five minutes, you're not building a relationship. At this moment, though, it really turns people off, because it's really overwhelming. You have to find people that you have a connection with. And keep in mind that it's about grace, rather than power. Everybody wants to hear that their background is interesting or that they did something that you admire. If you're gracious about it, saying “tell me about it,” that's an easy angle to have a conversation.
But ultimately all of this is going to be about the relationship, the chemistry. Don't be transactional. AND if you're asking somebody who's busy, make it as easy for them as possible in terms of figuring out what calendars or everything else works. Be understanding if they tell you in this moment, "Oh my gosh, I can't do anymore but let's do it next week."
We always guide our community to reach out to past colleagues and managers as a good place to start networking . We wanted to hear Adriane and Britt’s take on this and if they agree. Spoiler alert...they do! AND they add insight on how best to go about it.
Britt: “ It's really important to reach out to people. One of the best ways you can make a connection is to talk about how they had an impact or how you made the connection with them that time before, so that you can rebuild it for the future. Recently, in one of my many Zoom channel meetings, I heard from a former colleague at Avanade that a mutual co-worker is running a brewery. I knew this gentleman from when I first started my career and he was so important to my early work progress. So I took the opportunity to reach out and say "Hey, it is so awesome to see you doing this. I just needed you to know what an important part of my early career development you were,'' because he was! We've since been able to banter and have a couple of conversations.
Adriane:“ When you're reaching out to somebody you haven't connected with in a while, find either a shared experience, or a way that they've had an impact on you to recognize that and thank them about that. That authenticity really helps, because it feels like you're not making an ask. You're more just saying, "Hey, I thought of you. This is the reason why. Just wanting to say hi." That's a way for you to see if someone reaches back then great, maybe you'll continue that conversation, and if they don't, they don't. It's not necessarily anything against you. But that's why that file that I keep, it's a great way for me to go back and be like there's a reason that I can reach back or a way to reach back in a way that feels authentic and comfortable. Also, during this time of the pandemic, there's also been an opportunity just to reach out and see how people are doing in an authentic way. So that has been helpful for me when it feels a little bit abrupt to reach out to somebody that you haven't talked to in a long time.”
How did you utilize your network in unexpected ways?
Britt: “My journey to get to Apptio was not through a fancy executive recruiter, but through the assistant to the CEO, who I had known from previous relationships. The assumption is it’s about knowing the right recruiter. It's actually people you have relationships with existing today. In my case, a past colleague who was the CEO's assistant at Apptio made an introduction for me. Don't assume that these roles are out of your grasp because of fancy relationships!”
Same thing with Accolade. In 2015, Accolade’s CEO was on the board at Apptio, and I had the opportunity to go through a process to become a customer. Then in 2019, when the Accolade position came open, I got a call. That was four years of relationship building and wanting to be part of that organization and have the timing work out. So that's probably longer in a lot of ways than you may be waiting for at the moment, but just don't underestimate those long term relationships because people remember who you are and then they put you in a place where you can be considered for roles.”
Adriane: “The other thing is thinking about the people that you know. I often will just sit down and think about, who are my close contacts, who do they know, and what do those circles of communities and networks look like? Because there are ways for you to help each other out and also identify opportunities to connect with others that there might be a good connection with, both from you being able to provide them some value and you also to get some value back.”
Hear more about relationship building advice from Britt and Adriane on our YouTube channel; sign up for our Weekly #HangoutHabits, and subscribe while you’re there and follow us on social @theswingshift.co!