Networking is the new buzz word – it’s everywhere these days. It used to be known by catch phrases like, “It’s not what you know – but who you know” or being part of “The Good Ol’ Boys Club”. Business-focused networking today can really be a powerful career management tool but it takes time and effort to make it effective. Amazingly, it is estimated that than 70% of jobs are being found through word of mouth – networking is vital! There are many forms of networking some are very informal and others are strategically developed for optimal outcomes. Described below are three main strategies to launch your networking plan.
CONTACTING ALL THOSE YOU KNOW – The probably most obvious form of networking is done by going through your entire address book and business card collection. Setting up an organized routine of systematically working through your list; communicating with friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, and acquaintances keeps you on track. Make sure to also include association members, church friends, people you volunteer with, and your children’s friends’ parents, coaches, and teachers on your contact list. Stay aware for opportune moments to mention you are looking for work, start with those in similar industry or field so they can keep their ears open and maybe make a few calls to others who can make a few calls to others – and so on – and so on – and so on…
Be honest with those who you don’t usually socialize with and let them know you’re interested in talking with them about your search for the perfect job. Invite them out for coffee or lunch, email if it is more convenient for them and explain what you are looking for and what you have to offer. This is when an Online Resume comes in handy. You can give them your card and write the address of your resume on the back of the card so they can easily pass along the site to other interested parties who can immediately see your qualifications and have your contact information waiting.
REFERRALS – My personal favorite networking clients come from referrals. Working in a service oriented profession; every referral to me, feels like a compliment or award. It means someone liked my work enough to tell others about it and positively pass my name on when someone is looking for assistance writing a resume or preparing for their job search. Referrals like all networking, work in a pyramid fashion, it just keeps expanding and reaching further to more potential clients. The happier my clients are the more they will pass my name to others looking for help and I make sure to keep that in mind with every client or potential client I speak with.
In terms of looking for a job, referrals can be the strongest and fastest way to an interview. The referring contacts can do the selling of your qualifications for you and the employer will assume you can provide a high quality of work because the referral is coming from a reliable source. So, talk with your contacts and let them know you would appreciate them passing on your name to others. Keeping in touch with contacts using a newsletter, emails, phone calls or personal note keeps your name and service in their thoughts.
ONLINE NETWORKING – The newest form of networking is done by utilizing websites specifically designed to promote networking such as www.LinkedIn.com, www.Ryze.com or www.Xing.com. These are a great way of getting in touch with professionals you are interested in working with or for. There are smaller networks for individual industries such as www.nursegroups.com or www.teachersnetwork.org. With sites like www.LinkedIn.com and www.CraigsList.com you can even post your resume for employers to view. More social networking sites are gaining professional use such as www.MySpace.com and www.ClassMates.com. All these sites are free, easy to use and worth your time to cut and paste your resume or parts of it for viewers to see.
Remember that networking is an ongoing process, one that should be worked on daily. You will need to build a rapport with your contacts you are asking for help from and make sure you reciprocate assistance when you can. Keep records or some type of spreadsheet to monitor contact visits, effectives and responsiveness, and any notes or tips gained from these contacts. Navigating through these networking tips will definitely expedite your job search.