Job Search Networking – Theory and Practice
The theory behind it:
1. You do it already: to find a dentist, a plumber, a car, an appliance, a place to volunteer. You research and ask those you trust for referrals.
2. In a job search your friends and associates want to help you too. The benefits of including them in this process are enormous. They just need to know how they can help. All you need to do is offer them information and ask them a few questions. Replace asking where to get your hair cut, with asking for suggestions about where to work and who to talk to about those organizations.
3. Networking creates positive discussions that propel you to new and unlisted leads that represent over 50% of all available jobs. This is how you access the hidden job market!
4. Fact: 70% of all hires are people who are known. Employers’ first choice is ALWAYS to hire people they know or people that trusted referrals know. Fact: Employers need help finding and getting to know you. So start talking and make yourself known! Share your job search goal and what you have to offer that can meet employers’ needs. People will then start referring you.
5. Face-to-face networking conversations are essential because they’re relational. They provide the friend, associate, or employer a personal opportunity to help you/listen to you/consider you. They last longer than phone conversations, giving you more time to listen, learn, and sell yourself. When necessary, networking can be done by phone. E-mailing is least effective.
What to do in a networking contact conversation and afterward:
1. Be prepared with your core message (your job search goals combined with the skills and achievements that support them), target list of companies you’re considering, and resume. Discussions without these aren’t useful and can even hurt an opportunity. You usually only get one chance to sell yourself, so do your homework.
2. Clearly describe what kind of position you’re looking for based on industry, location, size of company, level, duties, business culture, personal values, etc. When you give your contacts a clear idea of your professional objective, they can more easily think of ideas and ways to help.
3. Give them examples of your achievements. Explain how the skills you used to realize those achievements can benefit an organization. This achievements/skills tool is one of the best you have in your marketing tool box, so complete your achievements/skills inventory now.
4. Ask them if they know anyone you could talk to in your industry in order to gain information and continue your search. It doesn’t matter if this referral has any hiring authority or even works for a company on your target list.
5. Share your target list and ask what they know about the organizations.
6. Ask them if they know anyone, or someone else who knows anyone, who works at these companies and if they would feel comfortable introducing you. These names are your referrals.
7. Build a list of referrals from each conversation that generates them. Referrals will help to define your next job search actions. Contact these referrals and your network will continue to grow, getting more and more people to know you who will lead you further into your desired industry and target list companies.
8. Informational interviewing is one networking technique. It is a more formal discussion requested by you with someone in your industry, an insider in one of your target list organizations, or anyone with hiring authority.
9. Follow-up with a thank you note, progress report, results of your referral discussions, and news of your accepted job offer. Maintain that good relationship because you never know when you may need their help again. Also, let them know you’d be happy to help them in the future, just as they helped you.
The ABC contact list:
A. Start with friends and acquaintances, people you know who would be willing to discuss your search with you, but don’t know how they can help. Start here to get practice and build your confidence.
B. Talk to insiders who have no hiring authority, those who work in your target industry and in your target list organizations. They know the industry, the organization, the department, the competition, and the people who hire.
C. Talk to decision makers, the people who have the authority to hire in any industry, including your own and others, and, of course, those from organizations on your target list. If impressed with you, decision makers may offer you a position. If impressed with you, but unable to hire you, they know other people who hire.
1. The closer you get to those who hire, the more valuable the networking discussion.
2. This is work; it takes time, but the pay-off is big.
3. It’s easier than you think. I’ll say this again. It’s easier than you think. Just do your homework, start networking (with family and friends first), and you’ll find out.
4. Track your contact conversations on paper or on an Excel spreadsheet. Organize your notes and record your referral information. Use this information to prioritize and drive your job search, your next actions.
5. Measure the growth and results of your contact network week to week, and you’ll feel your job search motivation grow.
6. Other traditional job search techniques should be used in addition to networking; however, networking allows you the MOST control over your search.