Even though job search networking is one of the most successful ways to find a new job, it can sound intimidating and sometimes seems a little bit scary.It doesn't have to be. My father ended up in a conversation on an airplane with someone who was looking for an aeronautical engineering job. My dad happened to be in the same field and ended up assisting the person in getting a new job. Sometimes, that's all it takes. I've been offered jobs on more than one occasion simply because a friend or acquaintance knew my background and skills.
Informal Job Search Networking
Try job search networking, it really does work. At at least 60% - some report even higher statistics - of all jobs are found by networking. Develop contacts - friends, family, neighbors, college alumni, people in associations - anyone who might help generate information and job leads. You can take a direct approach and ask for job leads or try a less formal approach and ask for information and advice. Contact everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know. Make yourself pick up the phone and call. It helps to assign yourself a quota of calls to be made each day. The more phone calls you make the easier it will become.
Email is a perfectly acceptable way to network as well. Keep your message brief and to the point and be sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If you are attending a holiday gathering or any other type of party, it is appropriate to mention in casual conversation that you are seeking employment. Accept all the invitations you receive - you never know where or when you might meet someone who can provide job search assistance! My stepson was not only offered a co-op position by one of my friends that he met at a birthday party at our house, he was also remembered a year later when the company was hiring.
Formal Job Search Networking
Formal networking works too - try going to a business social or an association meeting or event. You'll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards. If you're shy, volunteer to work at the registration table where you can greet people as they come in or bring a friend to walk around the room with you - there's security in numbers.
As well as networking the old fashioned way, use the internet to network. Visit discussion boards like the Job Search Forum to network with career professionals and other job seekers. Visit one of the sites, like LinkedIn, that focus on online job search and career networking.
If you belong to a professional association visit its web site for career assistance. Are you a college alumnus? Contact the Career Services office at your alma mater - many universities have online career networks where you can find alumni who will be thrilled to help you with your job search.
Not sure what to say? Review our sample job search networking letters to get an idea of how to approach networking contacts:
Job Search Networking Tips
- Conduct informational interviews with your contacts and ask for referrals for additional meetings
- Follow through with referrals, and always thank contacts in writing (email is fine)
- Create an inventory of your accomplishments, including your educational background and work history, to keep at hand should a chance encounter become a contact
- Make a list of the assets you will bring as a prospective employee
- Bring business cards and a pen
- Write some notes so you'll remember the details on who you have just met on the business cards you collect or in a notebook
- When networking online, keep track of who you've emailed and where you have posted so you can follow up
Finally, if you haven't memorized all your strengths and and strong points write them down - you'll need to articulate these in your resumes and cover letters well as emphasize them during interviews.