How many times have you heard about the “power of networking” in job search? Stats are quoted that up to 80% of jobs are found this way. (It’s true, by the way!).
Most job seekers loath networking. They resist and delay talking to people because their image of networking involves going to a crowded event armed with newly minted “Job Search Business Card” and trying to strike up a conversation with people that they have never met. Then they think they have to “sell themselves” and ask for help
Who would want to do that?
Here are a few little tips to make the process less stressful and terrifying:
The first thing that will help is to really redefine networking. The best networking is “warm networking”. That means, you want to start networking with people you know.
The other thing to remember is that networking is mostly about listening. Before you pick up the phone and call a contact, think of a few good, open-ended questions that help you learn some things – i.e. if the person works at a company where you would like to work, “I would love to hear about the company from an insider’s perspective, can you share your thoughts?”
Lastly, you will feel much better about the process of networking if you can give something back to your contact so the process is mutual. Most job seekers think that they have nothing to give. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are lots of things you can trade back in networking – contacts, advice, information (it doesn’t even have to be work-related). If you get stuck, I have found that there is one sure thing to offer that works every time. You can say something like:
"You have been so helpful to me today and I truly appreciate your time and all of the great suggestions you provided.
If you or anyone you care about is ever in a job search or thinking about finding a new job, please reach out to me for support. I am gathering a lot of information about job search strategy and lots of new contacts. I am very glad to help now or anytime in the future."
Once networking becomes more about building good relationships, most job seekers actually start to enjoy the process. Making conversations mutually beneficial is a great way to start!