A “network” consists of people you know and the people they know. When you talk to people you know about your job search, find out who they know who can also help you with your job search. This is “networking.”
Networking is the most effective way to find a job; approximately 70 percent of all jobs are found this way. In addition, it allows you to find out about jobs that are never advertised—the “hidden job market,” which accounts for 80 percent of all available jobs. Networking can also help you identify or find financing for self-employment or educational pursuits.
Through networking you develop the ability to build and maintain relationships with a variety of people. This skill is fundamental not only to a successful job search but to your overall job success.
The word work is part of networking. It is not easy work because it challenges you to reach outside your comfort zone. Besides meeting in person, use other effective methods of communication, such as letters, notes, clippings, and other positive interactions. Any honest effort can yield positive results.
Who is Most Helpful in Building a Network?
Begin networking with the people you know—family, friends, neighbors, church groups, social groups, volunteer organizations—and build your network to include:
- People who know something about your chosen career.
- People who know others who have influence.
- People who know a lot of other people.
Remember that to achieve quicker, better results, you should:
- Contact at least 10 people or resources per day.
- Get 2 new referrals from each contact.
- Set up at least 2 face-to-face meetings or interviews each day.
It takes practice to learn how to network well. The best way to learn is by role-playing in a small group or workshop. It may take a while to feel comfortable. Here are some guidelines that can help you:
Before meeting with someone, determine what you want to find out or accomplish.
- Make a good first impression. Within 10 seconds we form a detailed and persistent impression of anyone we meet. Researchers conclude that the impression we make when speaking to others comes largely from these three categories:
What impressions do you give when speaking to others about your job search?
- When meeting someone for the first time, be sure to introduce yourself. Use a “Me in 30 Seconds” statement.
- Ask those you meet with about themselves, and then listen. Ask about their work, how they got into their field, what they like about it, what is challenging, and so on. Remember that they may be networking too. Share information you have that may be useful to them.
- Briefly describe what you are seeking and how you are qualified. Use a “Power Statement”.
- When appropriate (usually at the end of your conversation), exchange business cards and the names of other people you should contact.
- The entire dialogue—introduction, discussion of your background, and agreement for further contact—can take place in as little as 2 or 3 minutes. After 8 or 10 minutes, move on.
- Although the exchange should be brief, avoid the mistake of trying to “sell” yourself prematurely. Those who are most successful establish a rapport first. Don’t rush it.
- Keep all commitments. The key to networking is to follow up. If you say you will call someone, do it soon after your conversation.
- Keep in contact with people in your network. While great benefit comes from new contacts, the best networking contact is someone you interact with more than once.
- Always send a thank-you note.