Networking…A MUST In Your Job Search

Networking…A MUST In Your Job Search

Think of networking as medicine…you hate taking it, but it’s so good for you.

You’ve heard it before…75% of job opportunities are in the “hidden job market” and the only way to have a shot at those positions is through networking.

Before your eyes glaze over, I’d like to tell you a story. I once was hiring for a professional position in my office. There was a candidate in my rather extensive pool who had been a flight attendant for 26 years. I glossed over her resume, seeing no relevance between the work she had done and what I was hiring someone to do. HOWEVER, I began receiving e-mails and phone calls from well-respected people in the community, expressing support for her candidacy. Her efforts in networking paid off and she got the job.

The purpose of networking

The goal of your networking efforts should be to get leads, ideas, and referrals…most people are not in a position to offer you a job and will feel uncomfortable if they think that’s what you’re asking them for. Instead, ask to meet with them for suggestions that could move your job search forward.

Be specific…Vague requests get vague results

By doing your homework prior to the meeting, you’ll likely have a good idea of exactly how this person can help you. LinkedIn is a fabulous resource for this, because you can see who this person is connected to.

A request might sound something like this: “Joe, as you already know, I am on the lookout for a great new opportunity. When I was reviewing your LinkedIn profile, I see that you’re connected with Cathy Smart, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at XYZ. After doing considerable research, XYZ is at the top of my list for organizations I’d like to work for, so I’m hoping you could set up an introduction for me with Cathy.”

The mistake many networkers make is vaguely asking their contacts to “let me know if you think of anything.” Most people will be glad to help you…if they know exactly what it is you are asking them to do.

Networking etiquette

A very important point…you shouldn’t be a barnacle in this process, all take and no give. Before you meet with networking contacts, plan how you will give value to them. Is it your in-depth knowledge of something they’re working on, a contact that will help them, an article they would be interested in? What you have to offer them is just as valuable as what you’re hoping they will give you.

One more point along these lines…if you’re meeting for 30 minutes over a cup of coffee, the first 25 minutes should be about THEM. That way, when you ask for what you want after 25 minutes of helping them, they will likely be more than willing to do something for you.

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