Job searching for many means the classifieds on Sunday. Other strategies include: targeting employers directly, utilizing college career centers, recruiting firms/employment agencies, volunteering, professional associations, Internet job searching, career fairs, and job search clubs. However, most career books argue the number one job search strategy is networking: the neglected art of schmoozing.
Networking is a skill and a planned process of becoming known through professional and social meetings, to people who can provide information about career opportunities. Remember these tips for effective networking:
1. Get Focused – Define your top 3 goals for networking events or meetings.
2. Identify Your Network – Stay organized with a system to track your contacts. There are 3 circles of contacts of varying quality: An inner circle of your closest contacts, a middle circle of individuals with whom you associate, and an outer circle of lesser known contacts.
3. Prepare For Networking – Start by contacting one person and then build your list from there.
4. Contact Your Network – Networking by phone is okay, but respectfully request a 20-30 minute meeting. Since no one likes to be used, cultivate your network and be relationship oriented.
5. Set Up Informational Interviews – Meeting people at their work site is convenient for them, allows you to explore diverse work environments and you will learn “inside information.”
6. Obtain Additional Referrals – Tap into other peoples’ networks adding new individuals to your list and requesting permission to use their name when contacting the new names. Collect business cards if possible.
7. Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up – Taking the initiative and showing interest in others will keep your name fresh in people’s minds.
8. Evaluate Regularly – What have I learned from this process? What sacrifices will I undertake to get the job I want?
9. Be Patient – Establish reasonable goals for networking each month to achieve your short- and long-term goals.
10. Network For Life – Build your professional connections before you actually need your next job. Since at least 50% of all jobs are secured by networking, you are better off networking than NOTworking.