Not only are jobs scarce these days, but those that do exist are highly competitive. Whether you are just entering the workforce and trying to land your first job, or whether you want to continue to successfully climb the ladder, successful job search networking can give you a leg up on your competitors.
This article explores 12 tips designed to help you become a more effective networker.
1. Make a list.
Think of all the people who can assist you in your job search or
career move -- now and in the future -- and write down their names,
contact information, and what your connection is.
Develop the list in a way that makes it easy to update when
you meet new people, and make sure it's easily accessible.
2. Keep in touch in the good times, as well as during the bad.
Don't just reach out when you've recently been fired, or when you're
seeking a promotion. Instead, touch base regularly to ask for and
share advice, to share information others might be interested in, or to
just say hello.
Try contacting two people on your list a week.
3. Give back.
The most effective networking is a two-way street. Show interest in
others, and go out of your way to give them help when they need it.
4. Get online.
You can network with people you don't know by setting up accounts on
networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Stick to groups of people you have something in common with,
like those who attended the same college you did, or alumni of past
5. Think quality, not quantity.
It's fine to have tons of networking contacts, as long as they are
meaningful. However, take care to concentrate on the quality of your
relationships, instead of focusing on how many you have.
Instead of spending valuable time gathering more people to be
in your network, spend time on strengthening the relationships to
people who could really make a difference to your career.
6. Include mentors as well as peers.
Seek out people who have accomplished exactly what you want to
accomplish, and develop relationships with them.
Not only can they help you land a job or a promotion, they'll
have great advice on what it will take to get to where you want to go.
7. Ask for what you want.
When you've identified someone who can help you in a particular
situation, instead of being vague, tell them what you need and how they
can help you.
For example, "I would like land the marketing manager job at XYZ
company. Would you please introduce me to the VP of marketing, and
then follow up with a phone call to tell him why I'm qualified for the
Volunteering for an organization in need is a great way to add
people you might not otherwise meet to your networking list.
Do a great job, and those people will see you at your best.
9. Join industry groups and professional associations.
Attend their meetings, roundtables, and classes.
While online networking is certainly growing in popularity,
face-to-face networking with people who can help you is invaluable.
10. Think long-term.
If you are in a situation that requires immediate help, it's okay to
focus on who can help you now.
But don't forget about those who may be able to help you in the
future. Reach out, and keep in touch.
11. Say thanks.
When someone helps you, don't forget to show your appreciation.
Email is fine, as long as the content is unabbreviated and appropriate.
Don't save your thanks for when you land the job or promotion; be sure
to express thanks even when someone helps you in a small way.
For example, if someone helps you land a job interview, follow
up to let him or her know how it went, and say thanks.
12. Maintain your network.
You've spent lots of time building your network. Continue to build
it, but don't forget to maintain it.
Bring out your list on a regular basis and make sure that
you've recently reconnected -- or have plans to reconnect -- with
everyone on your list.
Successful networking can mean the difference between a successful job search and one that goes nowhere.
Make a point to be an effective networker, and the sky's the limit!