A search firm may be able to place you in a job, or you might find one through a newspaper’s classified ads, but, according to many career experts, the most productive and powerful source of jobs is networking. Most human resource professionals say that approximately seven out of 10 jobs are gleaned through networking, and the chances of finding a job are probably better with networking than with any other source.
Networking is just that — work. It is labor-intensive. It requires gathering, classifying, working, and reworking long lists of names and addresses, plus hosting lunches and dinners, and making brief visits to your contacts. While it seems easy (“Just make a list and make some calls”), networking isn’t a pushover. Only recently has it acquired a name and been proven to be a great method of attaining a job. The frustration comes because unless you are a natural at schmoozing and are willing to pursue it wholeheartedly, networking is hard work.
It requires conversation and a keen eye for possibilities and opportunity, but it’s not as far-reaching as you think. When a friend suggests an accountant or a dry cleaner, or when you strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on an airplane — that’s networking. You are finding out information about a possible service you need or an interest you have. It’s the same process that kicks in when someone recommends you to an employer because you have made a good impression on him or her.
Networking translates to building relationships based on trust. When you tell someone something about yourself, he or she assumes that it is the truth and may later put his or her reputation on the line by passing along your name, goals, or accomplishments to someone else who is in a position to help you. Therefore, never misrepresent yourself.
The process of networking has three basic elements:
- Creating the network: Amassing a valuable list of names of people who can help you. Remember that this list is not static. It fluctuates with every move, relocation, or life change of you or one of the individuals listed. You must keep this list up-to-date and build on it constantly.
- Working the network: Calling your contacts, making appointments, and visiting them with a distinct purpose in mind.
- Following-up: Keeping the flow of information going; checking with your network contacts and reminding them of your career and job-search efforts. Networking is not a one-way street. You must be able to give back to the network and provide any knowledge and leads you have, if you expect to have such information come to you.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
You may think that because you have a pile of business cards, have made initial contacts with some key people at companies you’re interested in working at, and know a friend who has a friend who works at Company X, your networking strategy is on target. But ask yourself: “Why am I still not in the job I want to be in?”
Many people underestimate the power of