Everyone says, “You need to network,” but we either don’t believe them or are too scared to do it. Yet, it’s true that networking can be life-changing, altering the course of your career for the better. In fact, these five people have personally experienced the benefits of networking, even when they didn’t even know they were “networking.”
Find inspiration in their stories and then get out there and network. Connect with leaders in your current company, attend local industry events, or simply have coffee with a few like-minded individuals online.
In the end, you may just be one step closer to your dream job—or better yet: saying yes to that life-changing offer.
The Accidental Networker
Mollie Moric, Hiring Manager, ResumeGenius
It was one important flight that took Mollie Moric from recent graduate to London-career woman. “I was on vacation, catching one of those convenient and affordable intercontinental European flights to my next holiday destination—career opportunities weren’t necessarily the first thing on my mind. But as luck would have it, I sat next to a chatty business professional on his way home from a meeting in London,” says Moric.
After chatting casually with the man next to her, she came to find out that he was in the ecommerce business. Moric, as a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate, took the opportunity to learn about the industry—and her new plane friend was happy to oblige. Moric says, “Although my knowledge was limited, I rattled off questions about the company he worked for, as well as industry logistics, legislation, and future projections for the global market.”
Moric soon came to find out that her plane neighbor was the Managing Director of the ecommerce business they had been discussing, and was curious about her credentials. Her enthusiasm, paired with college experience, earned her a business card and job offer.
“Before parting ways, he handed me a business card, said he liked my enthusiasm, and asked me if I’d ever consider relocating. Four months later, I relocated from my quaint hometown, Victoria, Canada, to the bustling European metropolis, London, for an ambitious (and at the time, terrifying) career opportunity with the stranger from the plane.”
The Networking on the Job Networker
Steve Furst, Director of Operations, EPOCH Student Living
Steve Furst decided to pivot away from his role at Morgan Stanley to be near his now wife, while she finished college. This simple move meant that he was beginning a new job search, and found a great fit in a new managerial role: Leasing Manager for a 504-bed student housing facility near the college.
“I was hired, and served as a Leasing Manager for roughly 10 months, through a 100 percent occupancy lease-up, before being granted an opportunity to supervise an asset in Idaho. That was in 2011.”
But Furst didn’t just rest on his laurels. Through his many positions—”I have held the roles of General Manager, Training Manager, Area Manager, Regional Manager, and Regional Supervisor”—and career traveling, he’s not only worked in 23 different collegiate markets, but he’s learned from the expertise of dozens of people along the way.
Furst explains, “I’ve had the honor of serving under a number of excellent mentors, all of whom were able to advance my knowledge and skill through their leadership. This variety of experience has been invaluable, but has taught me that there is always room to grow.”
Now, he continues to grow, using the wisdom that he’s learned through his on-the-job networking to advance a new project in the works.
“Today, as we build ‘EPOCH’, our first 994-bed student property in Clemson, SC, I draw heavily on the experiential platform provided by my tenure in the industry. With much on the line, building a business from the ground up (literally, and figuratively), this experience has proven invaluable.”
The Online Networker
Rebecca Safier, Founder, Remote Bliss
We often think of networking as being in small, stuffy business spaces, but of course many of us also do networking online with sites like LinkedIn. This networking is helped Rebecca Safier land a gig she may have otherwise missed out on.
She explains, “I applied to a remote writing job with incredible benefits that I found through WeWorkRemotely.com. While I loved the fact that this full-time writing job was location independent, I knew I’d be competing with candidates from all over the country, maybe even the world.”
She sent in her resume and cover letter, but didn’t hear back. After weeks of waiting, she did some digging on LinkedIn to see if she knew anyone from the company. What she found was much better: “While I didn’t uncover any mutual friends who worked there, I did discover that the COO said he welcomed messages from new people looking to network. I wrote to him about my background and interest in his company.”
This small networking outreach—one simple email—was all it took. Safier explains: “The next day their content director reached out to me to schedule an interview. Since I took that extra step, I was able to get the interview and eventually get hired for my dream job as a full-time writer.”
The Career Networker
Boyd Norwood, President, SEO.com
Boyd Norwood got into SEO, an industry he was aiming for, thanks to working the networking scene: “I got my first job doing SEO by talking to anyone I could who knew anything about online marketing back in 2005.” In a serendipitous conversation, he was pointed in the direction of a marketing agency hiring SEO specialists—and he was hired.
But that’s not where the networking stops. Nordood says, “While at this job, I met several intelligent individuals in the digital marketing space.” After moving onto another company, he reached back out to a connection from, his first job. “We met up and began discussing setting up our own SEO agency which later became, ioVentures.”
Yet again, he built his business while continuing to network. It was in the three years that he was building this startup and networking locally with people in the digital marketing space, that he was offered a position at SEO.com in 2010. Norwood says proudly, “I am now the President of SEO.com and it is all because of networking.”
The Just-Being-Nice Networker
William Vogt, Founder and Managing Principal, Weilian Poder Global Consulting
Sometimes you don’t even know you’re networking—in fact, that’s often when the best opportunities present themselves because you’re not looking for them. This was the case for William Vogt: “I owe my career as a consultant to one particularly memorable experience that would have amounted to nothing had I not made networking skills a priority.”
On a serendipitous golfing trip, before his senior year of college, Vogt was on vacation playing golf with a relative. “We were paired with a man and his young son. After initiating pleasant conversation and helping the pair navigate the course for the first time, I was interested to learn more about the man’s work,” explains Vogt.
After chatting for nearly half the round, the man admitted that he was as the CEO of a large professional services company. Vogt says, “We exchanged contact information at the end of the round and I later was offered a job in his company’s 2-year consultant training program. That experience gave me much of the expertise I employ today in my own advisory firm.”
What got him the offer was simple: that he was being kind. Vogt says: “I’ll never forget what the CEO told me when we spoke again some time after our round. ‘It’s how you treated my son as a fellow golfer that stood out to me. You also treated me the same before and after I told you what I did for a living.’”
Vogt is proof that sometimes, great networking doesn’t come in the most traditional package.
It’s Time to Start Networking
Find inspiration in these career-changing stories of networking. Talk to people, be curious and treat people with kindness; you never know where a casual conversation on a plane might land you. Don’t underestimate doing the work of networking too. Norwood proves that putting in the work, does in fact work. Get out there, talk to people, and build a career you love.