There is little question that the surest method for finding a new job is networking. I'm guessing most of us know that, at least at some level. So what is it? How do you do it?
Simply stated, it's engaging others in your job search: Getting other people (your friends, family and associates) to be your eyes and ears, to be your advertising campaign. We all understand the definition, unfortunately, "understanding" is different than actually doing it.
What are the tools of networking? There is no definitive list, and there is no limit. One friend of mine moved the needle a lot. When she found out she was going to be laid off, before she left work for the last time, she found all of the people she had shared the elevator with over the previous 10 years and let them know her change in status and engaged them in her search.
A partial list of networking tools includes:
· An elevator pitch – 30 second description of what you are looking for and what you bring that is special, what you bring that adds value to a prospective employer.
· Interviews for Information
· Social Networking sites
o LinkedIn – this is probably the most important tool in this category.
o Plaxo, Biznik, Spoke, etc. These are also business oriented internet networking sites. Each has value and is worth considering
· Affinity groups (professional organizations, church groups, soccer team, workout locations, etc). This is any group you spend time with that you aren’t being paid for. Your best ones are the ones you spent time with before you started looking for a new job.
· Volunteer work
In other words, your primary network is everyone you know. Your secondary network is everyone they know.
Social Networking sites are ways to document your network, mine your network for opportunities and facilitate ongoing communication.
Your “elevator pitch” is your intro to new people and a way to update people you know. An “Interview for Information” is a tool to find deep knowledge about a profession or a company or a particular stage in a profession or maybe just more about an individual; it can have the consequence of moving someone from your secondary network to your primary network, and that is normally one of the goals.
Given the simple number of places to spend time (including the myriad of job boards etc.) one of the great challenges in job search is spending time efficiently and effectively. So while every contact is networking, it is necessary to evaluate your networking time for usefulness. I’m not suggesting that you stop spending time with your in-laws, or that you only spend time with them as it relates to job search, I am suggesting you are honest with them regarding your situation (update them with your elevator pitch) and that you make time for the former boss you haven’t seen in the last few years, but that you enjoyed when you worked for him/her.
There is an especially important question to ask with every contact, “Who else should I talk to?” Write down the name and contact info you are given, then follow up. If you get the opportunity to meet, the meeting is an Interview for Information and at the end, you should have an additional member of your primary network.
One last thought: Always thank the people that help.