UTILIZING YOUR NETWORK IN YOUR JOB SEARCH
When it comes to looking for a job, networking needs to be a critical part of every search. Yet many job hunters continue to underestimate its value and fail to realize that some of their best contacts may be right before their eyes: people with whom they are in regular contact, from all walks of life.
According to an article from CareerBuilder.com, when networking you should always start with the people you already know. You may not consider many of them professional references, but never underestimate how anyone might be able to help.
Here are some insights and perspectives on the topic from the article:
Start with who you know – Friends, family and acquaintances all have potential resources that can help in your job search. The key is to start exploring your connections. “Start anywhere,” said Alfred Poor, a career success speaker and author. “You have no idea where it could lead.”
Laurie Berenson, certified master résumé writer and president of Sterling Career Concepts LLC, echoes his point, saying, “Job seekers should look to their first ring of friends and family when beginning to network and then branch out from there. Ask people whom they might know in the field in which you are looking for a job.
Know what you do and don’t want – Your network can only give you as much assistance as you ask for — and it helps to be specific. “When you’re ready to start your job search, tell everyone what you’re looking for,” Poor told CareerBuilder.com. “You have to be detailed in what you want, because if you say you’ll take anything, you’ll get nothing.”
Instead, you need to be able to give a quick elevator pitch that describes the kind of opportunity you seek. Make it easy for people to understand what you want — and what you don’t want — and easy for them to repeat it to someone else, he added. Then tell everyone you know.
How you go about tapping your network is just as important as what you say. “To let your network know what kind of job you want, brief emails are good or messages through LinkedIn,” Berenson said.
“Keep in mind that members of your network are busy with their own lives, careers and families. If you send them a novel or too many attachments, you’ll dissuade them from reading everything and it will backfire on you,” Berenson added. “Send them talking points — bullet points about you and your qualifications that they could use if they know someone who could use your skill set.”
Be a valuable connection – Networking requires just as much effort on your part as it does for your connections. “You can’t expect your network to work miracles, and you also can’t ignore your network and then think that just because you’ve shot out a blast email that you’re looking, that your network will come through for you,” Berenson told CareerBuilder.com.
“Effective networking is a two-way street of giving and receiving,” she added. Offer to help people in your network so that when it’s time that you need assistance, you’ve built up positive goodwill with your network.
Also keep in mind that your actions and interactions with your network will determine what kind of opportunities come up. “The object is not to get the most contacts possible; the object is to get to know people and to give them a chance to get to know you,” Poor said. “They won’t refer you to a job unless they trust you and think you have a chance of doing the job well; their reputation is on the line when they refer you, so honor that risk that you’re asking them to take.”
Network on- and offline – Finally, try a mix of networking both on the computer and in person. “You could potentially meet new connections anywhere,” Berenson said. “Social media — including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter — and friends of friends should not be overlooked, but be careful to not hide behind your computer. True networking is best done face to face. Attend social gatherings, networking events, professional association meetings, chamber of commerce mixers, you name it.”