Networking

Dear Jean:

In my job-hunting research, I keep seeing that I need to “network.”  I know what this means, but I have no clue how to do it.  Where do I start?

Reply:

Networking for a job is making it easy for the people you know to help you find job leads.  To network, all you need to do is make everyone you know aware that you are searching for a particular job. They, in turn, can keep their ear to the ground for a job that might match your needs.

Have some inexpensive business cards made up with your recent contact information so you can give your cards to people you meet.  If you are within three feet of them give them a card. On the card, you can even include your area of expertise. “Supply Chain Management,” “Legal,” “Administration,” or whatever your specialty is.

To get warmed up to networking, start by talking to the people you know:  Your family, friends, neighbors, cleaners, barbershop, beauty shop, mechanic, etc.  Be specific about what you want in a job and what you have to offer an employer.  Ask them to get the word out on you. Most people won’t, but some really will! Make a list of everyone who will take your call:  Former co-workers, former classmates, neighbors, parents of your kids friends, people you volunteer with, people you go to church with, professionals you use – doctor, dentist, attorney, accountant, investment person, etc. – literally anyone you can think of who will take your call.  Write down their name and phone number and call them right away.

Don’t forget to find out about the reputable staffing and search firms in your area. Pick the top five and fill out an application (applications are taken mostly online) and make an appointment to see them once you establish what you do matches the kinds of people they place.

Next, contact any business associates you have who might be willing to keep an eye out for you.  A good way to do this is to write a quick postcard or email asking for their help in finding your specific type of job.  Action is key. The more feelers you put out the more leads you’ll get.  Job fairs are designed for networking. Be sure to take your resume to this type of event.

Social Media Networking business sites are good too. There are many of them and recruiters often ask to be introduced to you if you have the skill set they are looking for. Chose two or three of the most popular and you will have another place to talk about your work history. On LinkedIn there is a place for “summary” and there you will have a chance to summarize your experience and mention what type of position you’re seeking.

Remember who you contacted by keeping a list and check back with them periodically to let them know you are still in the market.  Keeping your network looking for you saves you a lot of legwork and can be very successful in finding openings that are not being advertised; many of the good positions aren’t advertised.

When you find your new job, it is courteous to let your network know, especially those who have given you a lead or given your resume to a friend.

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