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How to Make Job Networking Work for You

Consider networking to be an ongoing process if you want better job search results. You can network your way to new contacts, better business opportunities, more sales, and an attractive new job by keeping the lines of communication open with those who can help steer you in the right direction.

Whether pressing-the-flesh the traditional way on land — or meeting new people the newer way online — putting together a personal network is a work project highly recommended by virtually every career adviser.

To make your networking work, review these basic tips:

  • The networking secret. Successful networkers invest in people over the years. They think about personal networking as making deposits into and withdrawals from a kind of favor bank. Networking is a way of life, not a life jacket you pull out as your ship goes down.

  • The networking process. You already may be building promising connections with people you meet in the normal course of your life. Keep a list of who they are and how to reach them. Refresh your memory with these examples of personal-network-rich activities:

    Attending professional association and alumni meetings

    Being helpful to your neighbors

    Exchanging pleasantries with people like letter carriers and sales reps

    Striking up conversations in dentists’ and veterinarians’ offices

    Chatting up other parents at your child’s school

    Getting to know other volunteers on a civic project

    Working on humane endeavors at your church

    Keep others in the picture of what you’re up to; don’t be the taker who calls only when he or she wants something. Use lunch hours to stay in touch. Send e-mail. Connect others. Take leadership positions in groups. Do good turns.

  • The networking benefit. By building bridges to a group of individuals whom you are willing to help, and who are willing to help you in return, you create a safety-net infrastructure to mobilize when you’re on the road again in the job world.

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