When you are looking for a job, apart from checking the ads in newspapers and specialized job search engines on the internet, you should also ask for information from the people on your network's contact list.
Your personal contacts can provide you with current information on the company and position vacancies that are not posted in the regular job marketplace. Sometimes, when they do not provide information about the job opening you are looking for, your contacts may be able to refer you to someone else who might be able to provide the information you are looking for about the industry, company or position of interest.
This is an example of what networking is. Networking is when you start reaching out to your list of contacts to get needed information or referrals from your friends' network of contacts. Many people are repelled by the thought of networking. Some critiques of networking believe that is not a reliable as a source of information about industry, companies or job openings. Others say it is easier to keep on with the traditional job market ads than to rely on network of contacts to get the information we need as part of our job hunting efforts.
You may have not notice it, but you are already networking on a daily basis and you just do not know it. As you go along with your daily chores, you interact with people you know; the hairdresser, the bank's manager, your neighbors, your friends and family, your coworkers, current and former, classmates and other acquaints. All these people, that be a potential source of information, leads and contacts for a position if interest. The make your overall networking process easier, here are some basic, but important tips:
- Make a list of your "warm contacts"
Well, Walt Disney once said the "everything starts with a mouse". Them it comes to networking, everything begins with a list. We call this list a warm contact list as it includes people that you know and that will either take you call without much hesitation or will get back you as they know who you are. For some people, this may seem like a scary step so, as you become more ease with the process, begin with your family and closest friends and then expand your list to include other acquentions. Remember that warm contact list includes people that know you and that you interact, compared to a cold contact list that includes people that you did not have any contact for a while.
- Contacting people from your network list
When you reach out to a contact from your network list a warm contact, let them know that you are actively seeking a job. Be candid on what kind of job you are looking for and ask them if they know of job openings in the area of interest you are interested in. By letting you contacts know your preference of type of position, industry and companies of interest, will allow them to help them to provide you quality information, referral or contacts. It is very important to share your contact information with your network, so they can reach you in case they hear of anything. It has been my personal experience that some of my network contacts even asked me for a copy of my resume so that can pass it along their network of contacts, so have an updated resume ready if ask you for it.
- Do a self-assessment before reaching out to your network
As you over the process of contacting your network, it is likely that they will want to know more about your experience, skill, expectations and job preferences to that that better help you. You should be able to provide this information in a concise manner and to describe what kind of information you might want your contact to provide you ..
Many business recruiting and human resources professional suggest that you prepared a short script that you can practice from. They call this script the "elevator speech" or "two minutes speech", where you can articulate your job expectations and preferences, relevant experience and skills in about two minutes. In case more detail conversation is needed, then a short follow up meeting or call might be needed to go over your resume.
- Ask your network contacts for referrals
In case the person you are contacting is not able to provide you with information you need for your job search efforts, you can kindly ask for information of at least two people that might be able to help you. Ask if your contact may send an introduction note of call before you call or email the referral.
- When referred, act upon your referrals immediately
When you are referred to another person, your contact may contact then to introduce you and let them know that you will be contacting them. So keep in touch with your network to know when is a good time to make your move within a few days after you have been referred.
When you call the referred person keep proper business etiquette. When you make the call, introduce yourself and let the person know who referred you and how you are related with your contact. Be straightforward, but polite, in sharing with the person what information you are interested in.
Sometimes, the person you were referred to may call your contact after you call. Therefore, it is good idea to call your contact to share how the call went and, more important, to thank him or her for the referral.
- Be always available to add value to your network
This is a critical point. Networking is a two-way street when it comes to add value to one another. As you help your network, your people will more willing to help you by providing information and referrals, when the time comes.
As you gain experience through practice, you will find that networking is not an obscure science, but an interesting, fun and rewarding experience for you "team". It is also one of the most important tools when it comes to take your career enhancement and overall job search strategies to the next level.