Many job seekers are confused about networking, and therefore doubt its effectiveness. Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. So, like anything else, networking requires a bit of practice and finesse, but if done correctly, networking can be an invaluable part of your job search campaign.
Here are a few tips that can help develop a network that works for you:
Networking doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process. Networking is not just something you can check off your job search list like “Send resume to Pfizer”.
While people may want to help you, they might not be able to do so right away.Quite simply, you may not be the first item on their agenda. So, if someone agrees to meet with you but can’t do so immediately, accept their offer graciously and patiently. Never let an opportunity to meet with someone during the course of networking slip away. Always be open to meeting!
Be Authentic and Kind
When you do meet with someone resulting from your scheduling attempts, take a sincere interest in their life, not just the information or possible assistance they can offer you. Don’t push people for their knowledge or connections and then abandon the relationship. Networking means fostering relationships. This objective cannot be achieved by one person constantly taking while the other person constantly gives information or time. Relationships are built on trust and sharing over time.
Remember, one day you might be in a reverse career position; so be considerate and respectful to all you meet. Find ways to periodically reconnect with the contacts in your network to stay up to date on their lives,and let them know that you genuinely care about what is going on with them. Also, connecting and re-connecting, take the time to let them know that their advice and counsel was heard and put to good use. Acknowledging their individual value to you and to your career. Reinforcement of the time and advice offered by those in your network will foster gratefulness, awareness of their value to you and encourage them to continue helping you and others.
Be a Conduit
Remember, the objective of networking is…well…more networking. You should be constantly adding people to your list of contacts. Always find more contacts to meet and, in turn, become a great connector yourself! Open up your network to others. Hopefully they’ll follow suit and do the same for you, keeping the cycle going. Think about those contacts who could help others in your network,then introduce them!
Be a Teacher
Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will understand what networking is or how they can help you. Many people think that the best way they can help you as a job seeker is to take your resume and pass it along to their human resources department. While their intentions are noble, their strategy won’t help you and could actually wind up being counter-productive and consequently,losing you a great job.
HR managers, like recruiters, are sometimes only motivated to take action on your resume if there is a current job opening within the organization that matches your skills. If a position is not available, they have no incentive to contact you and the connection is lost.
Rather than giving your contacts a resume, ask them if they could introduce you to a member of their company so that you can learn more about their position, industry, and organization. This way, you’ll learn more about the company, share information about yourself, and begin to build a relationship rather than ending up as just another resume lost at the bottom of the pile.
Be a Helper
Networking is all about reciprocity. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always try to give more than you receive. For example, if you have information about a particular company, industry, or educational program that would be valuable to someone in your network, share it. By sharing you will help others and in turn, others will help you.
Whether you’re currently employed or job seeking is irrelevant – networking is a constant process. Obviously, you’ll be more on the receiving end of your contacts’ information when you’re on the look out for a new job. But that just means you need to work that much harder at giving information and sharing your network while happily employed.
If you’re constantly looking for ways to help people in your network achieve their goals, they’ll be much more likely to help you in return.