Nine tips for networking into your next job.
Your job search is a sales effort, and the product is YOU! So before you jump into actively networking for new job contacts, get your marketing materials together. Those will include three things: a great resume (hard and soft versions) of one or two pages; a great, introductory email message to use for all sorts of situations; and a job-hunting business card (available for free online from VistaPrint.com) with all of your contact information.
2) Make a list of people to contact
Now get your pencil out. Who will you contact first? Make a list of at least 25 former co-workers, vendors, customers, friends of the family (especially if you're a new grad), former schoolmates, and others who might be helpful in your job search. Think broadly and think big! Don't be shy about contacting people, even if you've only met them once or twice.
3) Reach Out!
By phone or by email, start contacting the people on your list and checking in. This contact doesn't say, "I'm looking for a job, help me!" Instead, you inquire about your contact's general welfare and what he or she is up to; let them know about your own job search, and politely ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of something that would be appropriate for you. If it is appropriate based on the strength of the relationship, inquire whether a coffee date or lunch would be appropriate. If they can make it, take it!
4) Get Together and Brainstorm
Lots of people are job-hunting, and when you're employed you can be hit up by a lot of people who need your help. So when you get together with a networking contact, don't hammer them with requests. Rather, brainstorm --here's what I've done, here's what I'm interested in--and together you may come up with another contact of an opportunity that wasn't evident at first. Networking goes both ways, so be sure and offer to help each contact with something, and follow up on that! You don't want to be perceived as a taker, and it's great to have associates who can call on you for help.
5) Use Online Networking Groups
Join online networking groups to add a virtual component, and much greater reach, to your job search networking. WorldWIT (www.worldwit.org)--full disclosure, I started the group--is a free online community for women in business (men are also welcome) where job search advice and referrals are always available. You can post a message to let the other WorldWIT folks in your area (RockyWIT in Colorado, e.g.) know what kinds of opportunities you're seeking. Online forums are powerful, so don't overlook them! But do take time to create a short, well-written message to post.
6) Don't Spam Anyone
When you create your "Hi-There,-I'm-Job-Hunting" message, send it only to people you know. Don't get business cards from friends and write to people you haven't been introduced to. If you seek an introduction to someone, you can network your way there--try Linkedln.com to see whether you and that person may be contacted through mutual contacts--but you can't contact them out of the blue by email without looking very much like a spammer. Don't do it!
7) Thank Everyone Along the Way
As an active job-seeking networker, you'll meet a lot of people in person and on line and undoubtedly receive a lot of help before you land the job you want. Be sure and thank everyone for every effort on your behalf, from forwarding your resume to an HR friend to putting you in touch with a helpful new contact. Don't shirk on the thank-you's! It feels good to help, but it's great to be acknowledged for that.
8) Don't Over-Sell
When you're introduced to someone new and you reach out to them, do so politely and with great respect for the huge demands on their time. If they respond, great. If not, don't write back--it's rude. Let's say your friend Michael Smith forwarded your message to his colleague Sarah Adams. You know that Sarah has your resume and you've written to her to follow up. But you've heard nothing from her. You can't write again--that's like email stalking but you can go back to Michael and gently ask if he might call her and follow up. Tread gently with person-to-person networking or you'll be labeled a pest!
9) Keep Track, and Celebrate Success!
Keep track of the people you've contacted in your job search, and when you find the job you're looking for, let all of your networking associates know about it! They deserve to hear where you ended up. Be sure and bee: everyone on any group messages, so you don't spread email addresses around.
Liz Ryan, is a successful entrepreneur, former corporate executive, working mother, and author and speaker on business and workplace issues. Liz is also the resident on-air career expert for her local 9 News-Denver, Colorado's NBC affiliate.
WorldWIT is a global esource for women in business, offering online and offline services and discussion communities for professional women to share ideas, network, mentor, and learn on a local and global level. Visit www.worldwit.org to join a free, moderated WorldWIT discussion group in your area!
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|Date:||Dec 22, 2004|
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