Networking is the key to a successful job search. Experts who measure this sort of thing say only 20% of jobs are landed through online applications. Another 10% or so come through recruiters.
That leaves a whopping 70% of jobs obtained through networking. Yes, you’re likely to need a resume, LinkedIn profile, letters, and know how to use them as part of the networking process; however, the real magic happens between people, not between you and a computer system in the back room of a corporation.
Networking isn’t a series of one-time contacts with a large number of random people. It is the development of targeted relationships with people who can help you reach your goal.
Rather than asking for something right away, let the conversation grow over time. Get to know them. Find out what their interests and needs are.
- Have you seen an article that would interest them? Send it.
- Do you have a contact you can offer them? Introduce them.
- Can you mentor them in a skill? Offer.
If you don’t know them well enough yet, send an email with questions about their goals and interests. Showing that you want to help them with their challenges makes them more open to helping you with yours.
The secret to building these relationships is appropriate persistence. In other words, keep following up. Most people I know are very busy. You and your job search aren’t likely at the top of their priority list. If you don’t hear from them, send another email a week later.
More than one email a week, and you may be viewed as a stalker instead of a potential friend, so be aware of scaring them off.
It’s kind of like dating. You have to hit that happy medium of being available but not aloof or overbearing. It’s a dance between people, so there aren’t hard and fast rules. What works for one doesn’t work for another. Experiment.
When you have developed the relationship to the point that you are comfortable asking for assistance, be specific.
Asking for “help with networking” might be kind of scary for someone who is still getting to know you. “Will she want my whole Contacts List?” “Did I just give my email address to a spam monster?”
Being more specific with your request can make the question less intimidating. “I’d love to talk with you about contacts you may have in the hospitality market in Arizona,” narrows it down to manageable.
If networking isn’t part of your job search strategy, contact me right away so we can start improving your chances of success.
Image courtesy Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net.