A job search that targets only advertised job openings will likely miss more than half of the available opportunities. Forty eight percent obtain their jobs through referrals or “word of mouth.” These individuals get the job referrals by networking.
Networking for a job is not easy, however. It requires time, patience, persistence and consistency.
Here are seven basic rules of networking for a job:
1. The time to network is now
Many people start networking only after they’ve lost their job. Effective networking means building contacts and relationships while you are still employed. Networking is a way to tell your story, get the message out that you are open to new opportunities and let people know what you have to offer. More importantly, it is a way to establish visibility and credibility so that people will know what you do and how you can help companies and organizations.
2. Tell your story
Do not treat each networking endeavor as a sales pitch. Yet, take each opportunity you can to tell your story, practice what you want to say and consider in advance answers to questions about your career goals that might arise during a networking opportunity. The more you repeat your story and introduction, the more familiar people will be with you.
When crafting your story consider the following:
What are your core values?
What kinds of things do you like to do?
What are your key talents?
Being clear about your why, values and talents will also help you focus on where and with whom to network.. This becomes the boiler plate for networking discussions.
3. Think of everyone you know
When you begin expanding list of networking contacts, reach out to everyone you know. Do not prejudge anyone, for you do not know who knows who or who may be able to help you with a referral or a job offer.
Go to your immediate and extended family, friends of the family, religious community, volunteer connections, old college friends or clubs, past employers, and anyone you deal with on a daily basis. Kindness and courtesy go a long way here. Always thank people reciprocate if someone asks for your help in return. People will remember you if you are thoughtful and polite.
4. Networking requires tact
Networking is a skill that is more about friendships and relationships and less about leads. It also has a vital aspect of building and maintain a list of contacts. Using common courtesy and respectful manners in asking questions and saying thank you also goes a long way.. Every job seeker can network, and networking may take different forms in different situations.
5. Make it second nature
Follow the demand for your talent by continuous networking, making it second nature. That means networking in the right markets and groups that match your values and goals. Make your own connections and be your own agent. Networking in professional, social, and other settings has become an increasingly important aspect of a job search.
How and where do I network?
There are networking opportunities everyday. The key is to find them and capitalize on them. Suggested avenues include:
- Networking can happen at parties, dinners, events, small gatherings, birthdays, volunteer activities, and ceremonies.
- Keep open and pleasant communication with past employers. Do not burn bridges when you leave a company.
- Join a professional organization or utilize your University’s alumni association.
- Volunteer for committees, events through and associations in your local community.
- Create a newsletter or a blog to help get your name out there. Include stories about what you learned in your job and networking.
- Use informational interviews
6. Use resumes like personal fliers.
7. Have business cards ready and available at all times.
Jon Roussel is an experienced B2B sales and marketing professional in Beverly, MA with over twenty years of experience helping start business and in inside sales and professional networking. He also helps business professionals earn a professional income from home alongside their current job or profession.
By Jon Roussel