The importance of career networking far outweigh the excuses. You may be shy, don’t have enough time or don’t like small talk.
Open your mind. There are more ways than ever benefit from the advantages of networking. This section will show you how to use effective networking to get the job you want. So stop procrastinating and start a successful networking conversation today.
Just look at the stats and the advantages of networking become apparent. According to authors Mark and Richard Bolles, authors of Job-Hunting Online (Ten Speed Press, 2008), the most popular methods of job-hunting have the lowest rate of success. When they asked people how they found their jobs, here’s what they learned:
- Posting a resume on an Internet career site – 4 percent
- Randomly sending resumes – 7 percent
- Going to the employment office – 14 percent
- Networking (making connections with everyone you can think of) got results 33 percent of the time.
Let’s face it, if responding to ads is your only job search strategy, you’ll have a tough road ahead. Sending out 100 resumes to hear back from just four employers can be defeating. Every job hunter has to tighten up their game to break through the competition that is out there, so my career advice for you today is to make the most of the advantages of networking.
Effective networking for a job works due to a simple law of human nature: People like to hire people they know or who come highly recommended by others whose opinions they value. By understanding how this works, you can take control of your job search. The purpose of the articles in this section is to shake up your ideas of where and how to look for a job. So put on your thinking cap, here we go.
What is Effective Networking?
When you’re making the most of the advantages of networking, you’re making a conscious effort to connect with new people with the intention of offering or receiving resources and support. You’re probably already a great networker and don’t even know it: Have you ever “asked around” to find a recommendation to a great dentist, restaurant, accountant, graphic designer or other resource? That, my friend, is effective networking for a job at work.
Statistically, every professional knows at least a few hundred contacts (colleagues, friends or friends of friends). By actively reaching out to just a few people every day, you are tapping into a hundreds of potential contacts. This is really where you see the advantages of networking at work, the possibilities are endless: Reconnect with an old friend for a cup of coffee, reach out to former colleagues and classmates, talk to a good friend’s dad about what it’s like working at his company. I am an effective networking contact for the people who are looking for accounting and finance jobs in Southern California. But so is the guy in line behind you at the grocery store, the parents on your child’s soccer team and the person that cuts your hair.
Almost everyone is a potential job networking contact and by connecting with them, you could easily be a step closer to your next job. Think of your networking contacts as people who can open new doors for you – they might not get you the job, but they might know the person who can help. We simply cannot overemphasize the importance of career networking. Here are some other places you might consider to find people who know about your target company, industry or career:
- Your family and extended family
- Your university alumni association
- Your friends and family of your friends
- Former colleagues
- Members of the groups, organizations, clubs, teams and church that you belong to
- Parents at the school, groups, teams and organizations that you or your children belong to
- Trade associations
- Social networking sites like LinkedIn
I’ve Made Some Connections, Now What?
When you’re networking, you have a purpose. You’re prepared, you’ve mastered your personal introduction.
With the people you know well already, let them know about your job search. Provide them with clear detail about what you’re looking for and ask them if they know anyone at a particular company or in a similar position that you might talk to. Then reach out to your new contacts. Depending on who they are, you have a variety of options of how to approach them. If they’re in a position that is appealing to you, ask for an informational interview. If you’re not sure, let them know about your job search and ask them if they know of anyone at a particular company or in a similar position that you might talk to. And so on. As you expand your network of contacts, continue nurture your network. The process goes like this:
- Make contact and have a conversation
- Follow up after your meeting
- Take identified action steps
- Find ways to provide value back to your contact
- Keep in touch and follow up with regularly
The name of the game in networking is regular and consistent follow up. Feed your network. Effective networking is not a one-way street; be sure to reciprocate by sharing information that might be useful to the person you are talking with as well. Pay it forward. In fact, if you approach the networking process in terms of "giving" to the other person, you'll develop relationships faster than anyone who is only concerned with themselves.
Seems like a lot of work? Consider the alternative: The 96% failure rate. Get out of the rut of sending out resumes with low response and increase your success ratio by tapping into the hidden job market uncovered by effective networking. Put the advantages of networking to work for you.
As you click through these pages, you’ll find some business networking techniques that will help you make the most of the advantages of networking. Keep in mind that this is the time to step out of your comfort zone and go beyond what you might normally do. Once you land the job you want, you can go back into your own little world. While you’re actively job hunting, though, it’s time to stretch.
You can network with people whom you know socially or in a professional sense, among attendees at business events or the person next to you on an airplane or train. You can send letters, ask for an informational interview, or ask people if they know of anyone in companies you are targeting. The idea is to grow the network of people in which you give support as well as take it, so that you become known and may be thought of when a good opportunity arises; sometimes when you least expect it.
If you enjoyed this article, you may appreciate our career advice in other areas about finding a job as well:
- How to Find a Job - The Basics
- Networking to Find a Job
- Writing a Great Resume Objective
- Five Resume Mistakes to Avoid
- Interview Etiquette
- Dress for Success - Interview Attire