Without networking, your job search is not doomed, but you will suffer through a longer, more difficult search if you go sans network.
Networking is only one piece in a multiple-channel job-search marketing strategy. You help yourself best by working all your channels. These may include:
- Online networking portals such as LinkedIn
- Recruiters and search firms
- Job sites such as Indeed, LocalJobNetwork, Ladders, and CareerBuilder
- Targeted mailing and informational interviewing
- Career fairs, trade associations, and community organizations
Nevertheless, many jobs are found by being at the right place at the right time, and that means a lot of deliberate networking. Some may say, “Being at the right place at the right time is all luck.” I don’t. I say it is the result of preparation meeting opportunity. If you are not prepared, you may have opportunities looking you in the face and never know it; or you may recognize an opportunity and not be prepared to take advantage. It is only when preparation and opportunity meet that you are likely to win a job.
The caveat: Opportunity is actually a compound variable in the equation. Time must go along with opportunity. In other words, you can be in a lot of right places (where there are potential opportunities) and be prepared for each opportunity, but without a crystal ball, you will not know it’s the right time until you get there. So you must be in a lot of right places at one time. By implementing a strategy that uses multiple channels simultaneously, you will be able to virtually be in many places at one time. Equation solved! Of course, everyone will say, “You were lucky.” I’ll say, “You were prepared.”
As for the networking piece of this multichannel approach, I will tell you what I tell those who have substantial networks and still suffer hard times: make it easy for others to help you and they will. Whether you are looking to build a network or jump-start a stalled (existing) network, here are several tips that can help:
1. Start building permanent relationships while you are still employed.
2. Become known in professional associations.
3. Reacquaint yourself with peers in other companies.
4. Push out emails to update friends and acquaintance.
5. Know yourself: what you stand for, what drives you, what you value, why you do what you do.
6. Demonstrate how focused you are and tell others how to help. (e.g., give you leads, additional targets, and referrals).
7. Be in the know. Know your market: stay informed of changes and events, the flow of money and movement of people, and signals of things to come (markets, companies, industries, and players).
8. Have a communication strategy that captures and presents your strengths, competencies, and verifiable experiences in fifteen- to thirty-second stories.
9. Set up meetings with contacts to share your strategy and ask for suggestions.
10. Talk to your competition—a source for information that also may be looking for someone.
11. Do your homework! Take the time to understand other people’s agendas before setting up a meeting for your own.
12. Encourage brainstorming; ask open-ended questions.
13. Use simple language when talking with others. Don’t make the listener plow through jargon.
14. Be entrepreneurial! Think and act creatively (e.g., consider joining or starting a small venture with other knowledgeable professionals).
15. Finally, call a friend and get energized before calling a contact for a meeting.
There’s plenty more on this subject. These are only some tips that hopefully will get you motivated. Whether you are employed but looking or unemployed and need to look, whether you are networking for the first time or re-energizing a current network, rebuilding past relationships and developing new ones should be a deliberate and ongoing practice throughout your career.Originally published on CAREEREALISM