Years ago, before all of human knowledge was put into The Cloud, there was a company called VMWare that figured out how to do a lot of what we now see as just everyday stuff. You could create servers that were virtual, move them around, modify their capabilities, clone them, connect them to other servers, all sorts of crazy stuff. Seriously, at the time, it was amazing stuff.
Just for a little background, in case you don’t know me, I’m a web developer, an entrepreneur, can build and manage teams, figure out what clients need, build plans, etc, etc. I’m a swell dude. But I’m not a system or network administrator or whatever else you’d be if you can alter time and space the way you can, or could, with VMWare.
I saw that VMWare was hiring some sort of solutions architect type person for the area of the world I was in, NYC, and decided to go for this. Instead of sending in my digital resume to get processed by their tracking system I found people who were doing that job for VMWare elsewhere in the world, and reached out. I connected with a dude in California and told him what I wanted.
I don’t know if they had a referral program at VMWare, where you get a couple of grand if you refer someone they hire, but it’s not beyond the scope of imagination. This guy hooked me up. He told whoever his boss was about me, and before you know it, I had a phone interview. I cut to the front of that line. Here comes the fun part.
I did horribly in that call. Beyond the name of the company, I didn’t know anything. I was woefully unqualified for the position I was interviewing for.
That’s fun, but beyond the humor, the important part, is I made it to the front of the line, despite being completely undeserving. This is networking. Networking isn’t connecting to a million people and never interacting with them. That’s called rewriting the phone book. No value in that. You need to talk to real people to network. If I managed to get this far by talking to a completely random person, imagine what could happen if you get to know people and work with them to further your goals. Volunteer places, like Habitat for Humanity, or helping widows at your church, or reading to kids at an after school program. You’ll meet other people, adults, who might be able to help you.
Now imagine further that you are actually qualified for something, and instead of putting yourself in the proverbial meat grinder, the applicant tracking system, which works to filter out people, you find someone to advocate for you. Maybe the hiring manager, maybe someone reporting to that manager, maybe someone else at the company.
But why would this work?
Because people hate reading resumes. They hate sifting through all that junk. They’re going to rely on you and possibly spend more time with you than they do their wife, so your personality matters. If you seem like a decent person, aggressive and serious and you get along with people, they’ll want you. Even if you’re not perfect. People trust the opinion of other people. It’s the basis for networking.
Take a risk. Reach out to a real person. You might end up at the front of the line.