For decades, networking has been the gold standard in finding a job. Although some shy away from asking for assistance, most of your friends, family members and connections want to help if they can.
If you’re not convinced, pause for a moment to reflect on how you feel after helping someone. No matter how minor, it feels good to know that we’ve brightened someone’s day.
When in a job search, most people you know won’t be in a position to hire you, but there are still many ways they can help you achieve your goal. Examples include: introducing you to others, passing along your resume, or simply keeping their eyes open for information that may be relevant to your job search.
To network most effectively in your next search, make yourself easy to help. This will significantly increase your odds of finding a great role because your network can be your scouts, continuously sending relevant data your way. Consider the following ideas:
1) Know specifically what you’re looking for in your next job. While “being open to anything” may feel like a good approach to increase your options, the exact opposite is true. Why? First, it’s not accurate. Are you really willing to work in any location for any pay? Second, it leaves too much to chance. Without a target, your contacts may not bring you any information or may filter opportunities based on their (potentially incorrect) assumptions. Either way, fewer leads get back to you.
2) Clearly communicate what you are looking for. This is not the time to use fancy jargon and industry buzz words that 95% of the population does not understand. Use an analogy or example if needed to ensure your contacts have a good idea of what you are seeking.
3) Keep your documents and social media updated. If asked for your resume, have the most current version ready. Ensure your Linked In profile is in top shape and aligns with your job target. This is always a good rule of thumb. You never know when a Recruiter may be searching for someone with your expertise, even if you’re not in an active search.
4) Have personal business cards. And more importantly, keep them with you. You never know when the opportunity to network will arise. Simple business cards are a professional way to share your contact information. Store some in your wallet, car, and Smartphone case. The most successful job seekers are always ready.
5) Identify specific companies that interest you. This is a great strategy to make it easy for others to help, even if they’re not very familiar with your industry or expertise. If you tell people you’re interested in Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, chances are they know someone – a neighbor, cousin, former classmate – who works in one of those companies. Having a current employee pass your resume along or introduce you can be a (huge) foot in the door.
6) Follow-up appropriately. Everyone’s busy and even friends with the best intentions sometimes get sidetracked. If you don’t hear back after reaching out, try one more time. Or, after an initial conversation, let your contact know that you’ll follow up again in a few weeks to keep them posted on your status. If you drive the process, you’ll have much greater success when networking.