6 Tips to Reap Networking Rewards in a Job Search

Impatient job seekers think networking takes too long and is too much work. Others chalk up networking to being merely a buzzword, or they’ve heard tales of networking fatigue and growing resentment toward would-be networkers. Still others are introverts who utterly detest the thought of putting themselves out there to leverage a network of people to find jobs.

If you’re in one of these groups, are you game for a rethink?

The fact is that networking can be a top tool for people who are looking for a job or trying to advance their career. Here’s a blend of best tips from an A-team of career advisors:

  • Dig a well before you’re thirsty. Networking is a mutual support system. You help other people and they help you back. Start not by asking for anything when you first meet, but instead by offering a brief compliment, or to make an introduction or connection to another member of your network.

    At all costs, avoid coming across as pushy, needy, or self-serving. Your motto: How can I help you? Mean it.

  • Make a plan. When you get an offer to help, know what you specifically want. Think about what you want from your network. And keep records. Maintain an e-database of everyone you speak to, and their names, addresses, job title, phone numbers and summaries of what you discussed and any promises made by either of you.

  • Be thrifty with time. When someone new approaches, an immediate reaction is “How much time is this going to cost me?” Set limits with your opening request: “I’d like to briefly discuss one item — no more than five minutes. Do you have time now?” This approach shows you are considerate, not a time waster, and leaves the door open to talk later if this isn’t a good time.

  • Be selective in choosing events. Attend fewer events ad be more astute about who you spend time with. If you good-soldier-it to every business event, you could become a weary and pale imitation of your best self.

  • Use a phone and social networking to land face-to-face meetings. A large number of connections on social websites are great assets, but the payoff is in sit-down meetings where you can build budding interpersonal relationships, rather than rely on technology connections.

    Use your social contacts to grow your network. When you learn about someone you’d like to network with, send a brief message asking if the person could spare 20 minutes for a networking conversation in person or over the phone.

  • Give your contacts VIP treatment. Send each new contact a thank-you note (and your resume if you haven’t already provided it). Never reveal your contact’s private phone number or e-mail address without permission. Most importantly, do not bug your contacts daily or weekly. It’s a good idea to keep your name in front of them every several weeks to let them know how you’re doing, but keep it brief!

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