I remember when I graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in international relations. I would inevitably run into some recently graduated engineering student who would ask me, while I was ringing them up at the local record store, what degree I had graduated with. People in Davis, and even in Sacramento, used to look at me as if I had two heads when I would tell them that my degree was in international relations- they had no idea what it was. Through a friend’s referral, I soon found my way into an office job working for a company that tracked legislation for all fifty states. They were absolutely thrilled that I had a college degree, it made no difference what the degree was in. I didn’t get the job through the usual application process. I got the job through someone who knew me, through networking. In fact, looking back, I have never gotten a job purely based on a standard application and interview process – they have always come through someone who knew me and decided to help me.
Years later, I was hired into the Central Intelligence Agency. I had been applying for at least seven years. Do you know what finally got me in that very elusive door? I was referred by a retired CIA officer with whom I had become friends. Through a chat with one of his friends, my long-coveted job came through. I would have never gotten in based on my application and interview alone. That is called networking.
Networking is important. It truly is who you know.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Capants, a top leader among women in business and a networking guru. Ms. Capants is the president and founder of Global Executive Search, EBC Associates, and the Erudites Networking Group. She founded EBC Associates more than ten years ago and grew the small business into a globally recognized executive recruitment agency. Her background was in marketing and business development in the publishing and financial industries. She had worked for another search firm prior to launching her own practice and, along with a partner at the time, she felt she wanted to develop a more human-centric recruiting model.
EBC Associates was born. A global specialized executive search, business consulting, and referral networking services firm has grown into a global network of affiliate partnerships to drive growth. Erudites Networking Group was formed as a subsidiary. The two provide four areas of focus: human capital and executive search services, career coaching and branding, referral networking, and social impact and community give-back to support non-profits. Liz’ business is a unique model. EBC Associates works with direct mandates provided by employers, they then execute on those positions, as well as provide human resources consulting and advisory services. Erudites Networking Group supports job seekers that may not align with her direct searches, where she provides a community and resources specific to the job search process.
The typical client size for EBC Associates is mid-market, anywhere from $5 million plus. The industries that use their services vary. Liz has worked with organizations in management consulting, e-commerce, fintech, construction, nonprofit, and advertising agencies, to name a few examples.
When she was first starting out, Liz explained that she had put all of her eggs in one basket, she had two clients that gave her the majority of her business. When things changed for those clients (leadership changes, etc.) she realized she needed to diversify her portfolio. This is where networking came in.
Even in today’s increasingly remote work-from-home environment, no man or woman is an island. Networking is one of the most crucial skills you can master to help your career and business thrive. Even if you are one of those people who loves the flexibility that working remotely affords, it’s still important to expand your community by incorporating some form of networking into your schedule. You never know where your professional network will lead you.
Liz leads an Execs in Transition Networking group and a Young Erudites group for early stage career individuals. Her goal for both groups is to provide a holistic approach to job searching – incorporating networking, branding, and consulting opportunities to broaden the process to finding work. These communities have grown organically as a forum to advise and consult one another.
Today, Liz Capants’ business is fueled by referrals and word of mouth from previous clients; her business is generated through the network she has built. She is a perfect example of the importance of networking.