A Matter of Networking or Not Working: Five Tips for Career Success

Networking is by far the most effective way to land a new position. Of all the job search techniques available, networking remains the most popular method used by the individuals in career transition to help find a new job. It is not only ranked highest, but it is mentioned five times more frequently than any other method, including search firms, advertising, and the Internet.

Since the jobs listed in newspapers, trade journals, and employment offices only account for 25 percent of the un-filled positions in the job market networking is a practical necessity for the modern worker. However, if you begin networking before considering your methods and goals you risk missing opportunities or even damaging your reputation.

Here are five tips to ensure your networking efforts are successful:

  1. Networking is not about asking for a job. Nor is it merely a process of passing around your resume. You should be seeking information, advice, a review of your resume, and contact phone numbers. You want to build relationships, share information, and make long-term career connections.
  2. Consider your communication style. Your communication style will have a great impact on your success at networking. If you speak with confidence, energy, and commitment, people will help you and be more likely to refer you to others. They will remember you and enjoy the communication.
  3. Do your homework. Getting to know your networking contacts, their companies, and their industries will help you to establish a relationship of substance. Scour the Internet, and make trips to the local library. Try to maintain a 90/10 ratio of research to actual contact time. That is, for every 10 minutes you expect to spend with a contact, try to support that 10 minutes of meeting time with up to 90 minutes of research on the contact and his or her company and industry. It will help you take charge and be a value-added contributor to the conversation.
  4. Know in advance what you want to accomplish. Be clear on what to ask and what you hope to learn. Listen well, keep good notes, and be on time, both at the beginning and the end of the meeting. And don't forget to follow up, both with a thank-you letter and anything else you said you would do.
  5. Networking is about making connections with people. It’s about giving, not just pumping somebody for information and then walking out the door. When you leave, you want to leave behind a friend, so that if they hear of something—a job opening, a new company moving to town, some information that might help you—they will remember you.

When you are networking, you are making connections with people, learning from them, getting to know them and, whenever possible, helping them. You are also letting them get to know you, so that if they have work that needs to be done, or know someone who does, you will be considered and in the end you will get that job you're looking for. Your preparation will help you approach networking with confidence, one of the best assets a job-seeker can possess.

Courtesy of Chuck Quackenbush