Networking… Or Not Working?
Positions advertised through the Internet, newspaper, employment agencies, or the Career Center only represent about 20% of jobs that are available. Statistics consistently show that most people who are successful in securing employment do so through networking.
Five Steps to Successful Networking
- Develop a firm grasp of job search basics.
Your basics should include researching industries and positions, writing effective resumés and cover letters to highlight your related work experience and projects, and brushing up on your interview skills.
- Conduct a self-assessment.
Talk to your career counselor about exercises and tools that are available. Research job descriptions and industries to see what’s out there and what appeals to you. Remember, you need to be able to communicate what you want and what you can offer when speaking with your contacts.
- Decide how to organize your network.
Create a spreadsheet and filing system to keep track of names, addresses, titles, emails, resumés sent, responses received, and contacts made.
- Communicate with your network.
Initiate contact and be sure to follow up your meetings with a thank-you note! Remember to be assertive, not aggressive, and always be clear about your reasons for contact.
- Initiate informational interviews.
One of the best ways to gain more information about an occupation or industry—and to build a network of contacts in that field—is to talk with people who currently work in the field. Remember, the purpose of the informational interview is to obtain information, not to get a job.
Things to Keep in Mind
When you are networking you are not asking for a job.
Some contacts may be resistant if you approach them with the single intent of obtaining a job in their company. They may not be in a position to offer you a position. Instead, your goal should be to obtain advice, information, and referrals in the industries or organizations you have targeted.Leverage contact names as a door-opener.
Use names you are given to get to a contact in your chosen field or a decision-maker, but make sure you ask for permission first. Then, you can lead with, “Pat Shulman suggested I contact you…”Do not worry about offending or intruding on people—within reason.
Most people are flattered by requests for help or guidance. However, do not hound potential contacts with constant messages or emails. Busy people need time to respond.Use the opportunity to learn as much as you can.
This process will prepare you for actual job interviews. Spend time preparing questions.Always ask for other contacts.
The name of the game in networking is to talk to as many people as possible. You can ask your contacts if there is anyone else they know who may be able to offer you advice and information.Be certain to follow-up on every lead you get and acknowledge your appreciation for the assistance that you have received.
Don’t forget! You can get business cards through the UPO here.