An antique knocker on a lime green wooden door.
Image: © trgowanlock/

How to open doors in your career through networking

9 Apr 2021

Rebecca Leder, a senior manager at Salesforce, shares her ‘knock’ method for cultivating professional relationships.

Networking is often described as one of the most important parts of career progression, but what’s the best way to navigate it? Rebecca Leder, senior manager for customer success at Salesforce, recently wrote a book on the topic.

Leder has spent her 12-plus years in marketing so far honing a five-step plan she calls the ‘knock’ method. Here, she shares some of its key points and explains why professional relationships don’t always have to be transactional.

‘Always focus on the other person or company and what you can contribute to a relationship with them’

How does the knock method work for networking?

The knock method is a five-step methodology and guide to building high-quality career relationships. The idea is that when we ‘knock’ thoughtfully and intentionally on others’ doors – in other words, prepare to connect with individuals in our careers – opportunities will knock for all of us.

The research says that high-quality, mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationships – even in our careers – are good for our mental and physical health. And they don’t just lead to jobs, but contribute to enhanced productivity, amplify impact and create positive change in our teams, organisations, communities and our world.

The first letter of the five steps spell ‘knock’:

  • Know my topic, my contact, and specifics up front – research and prepare to connect
  • Not about me – be other-centred, focus on what we can do together to create an impact
  • Own it – bring authenticity to relationships and invest in relationships and opportunities up front
  • Commonality – bringing shared interests and backgrounds to the forefront builds trust and opens the door
  • Keep giving – practise generosity and gratitude and help others, even as you develop your own career
How can we go about networking now in a virtual world?

You spend the time to prepare, researching the people, company and opportunities you want to explore. Research can help you filter out the individuals and opportunities that would not be worth anyone’s time.

Once you know your topic and your contact (or company), you should know what you have in common with them and what value you can bring to them, and what you’d like to discuss that would benefit them. Bring your unique experiences to the forefront and demonstrate you’ve put the work in up front, but always focus on the other person or company and what you can contribute to a relationship with them.

Lastly, be generous. Offer ideas and resources based on what their needs are. Fill their gaps and solve problems for them.

In the knock method, you mention ‘other-centredness’. Can you explain what that means?

Other-centeredness is about shifting focus off of yourself and onto others using an outward-focused lens. When connecting with someone in your career, you could say something like, ‘I’m interested in working for your company because I like finance and I noticed an open position.’

Or, you could say, ‘As a leader in the fintech industry, I noticed your company not only values profitability and innovation, but also the wellbeing of your employees, as evident by your recent article in [X publication] on the recent change to your paid time off policy. Wellbeing is one of my values too and I’m looking to bring my three years of experience to your company because I’m great at balancing aggressive deadlines while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.’

Notice that you’re focused on the company, its goals and its values. You invested in the relationship, showing you researched and read about them in a specific publication, and you’re bringing contributions to help them achieve their goals and align with their values. It’s more about them than it is you.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about successful networking during your career?

I like to say, create an experience, not an exchange. When cultivating mutually beneficial career relationships – whether with a mentor, a colleague or a client – find ways to partner and help each other.

Create something together – an experience – rather than just an exchange of talent and time. Rather than slipping someone your business card for a hopeful future sale, find out what their interests are, what problems they’re currently trying to solve, and uncover ways you can help.

An experience comes with more well-rounded feelings, such as excitement, friendship, care, interest in the other person and curiosity, and leads to future opportunities, whereas exchanges feel transactional and fall flat.

With transactional exchanges, when it’s over, the door pretty much closes. It could be opened again later, but there’s less feeling and mutual value behind it, so it’s short-lived and, therefore, less valuable for all.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading