The first thing one needs to understand about networking is that it’s not something you start when you need a job, it is an undertaking that is carried out over the course of one’s life. People tend to think that networking is an aggressive way to self-promote, but really, it’s about building good relationships. It is the act of connecting with others while having the intention of being open and exploring what they might have to offer you, and what you have to offer them. A two-way street if you will, for any relationship from introducing yourself to new neighbors or the CEO of your company.
Networking is easy, and just about everyone knows how to network already. Everyone you meet, every single day, becomes part of your network and you can accomplish this by simply being nice to them and socializing. A simple conversation with a store clerk can bring you within one degree of separation from a connection to someone who can hand you your dream job.
The tough part about networking is not the act of doing so, but rather, tapping into your network when you need a job. Many people are scared to reach out for help, worried about coming off desperate. Being out of work is extremely common, and I guarantee you that reaching out will surprise you due to the amount that people are willing to help. Follow these steps, and you will realize just how big your network really is, and you will also discover how to reach out effectively.
Set Targets: Contrary to popular belief, knowing specifically what kind of job you want or what company you want to work for makes the job search easier. Being open to anything that is available is not only ineffective while applying for jobs online, but, it also reduces the effectiveness of your network. “I’m open to anything” doesn’t inspire people to help you.
Make a List: Your network is probably a lot bigger than you think it is. As I mentioned before, this could be just about anyone. Write their names down and how you can contact them. Meeting up with someone in your network might connect you to another network and a heap of new people. Don’t leave anyone out!
Reach Out: Firstly, you should get in touch with your primary contacts, those who know you best, and inform them of your situation. Then, reach out to the rest of your network. Telling people that you’ve lost your job or unhappy with your current one is tough, but you won’t get anywhere if no one knows what your situation is. Remember to focus on the relationship first by being thoughtful about their situation and authentic in your plight. Let them know what you are looking for and ask for their advice. The more specific you are about what you need also helps, whether it be a referral, reference, or introduction to someone in your field.
Maintain your Network: If you stayed true to keeping the relationship strong rather than aggressively coming to them for a job, your network will remain strong. It is important to maintain these relationships in the future by sending an update email or giving them a phone call to thank them for their help regardless of the outcome.
Remember, networking is not something you only do when you need to find a job. It is a life skill that you should practice with everyone as you never know who will introduce you to your dream career. Tapping into your network is tough indeed, but following these steps should help.
To your success!