Networking Works – My Story

People ask me all the time, “How do I get a job?” It’s not easy for anyone in today’s job market. New grad? High school student? Returning to work? Looking for that perfect full-time or that first part-time job? Job seekers will typically search online, subscribe to job boards, and/or join LinkedIn.

For a long time, I thought a successful job search was all about online postings, until I found myself unemployed a number of years ago. My course of action was to apply for job after job and I applied and applied. I was successful at securing interviews. Many times I thought I had the job… until I didn’t. The question became, “what am I doing wrong?” The answer eventually presented itself. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was just that competitive in the job market. That was when I started to think about networking, something I hadn’t leveraged before in my job search. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines networking as:

the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business

I had read about networking. People told me that I should be talking to the people that knew me. It took some time before I started following their advice. That is how I landed my next two jobs. Networking. I connected with someone that knew me from my graduate program. I hadn’t spoken to her in years. She gave me permission to use her name to connect with organizations that ultimately hired me.

6 Networking Tips to get you started.

  1. Start with people you know. Work out from there. Begin with family (immediate and extended), friends, friends of friends, neighbours. Then “follow your money”. Make a list of all the places where you spend money. For instance, your dentist, hair stylist, dry cleaner, favourite restaurant, retailer, massage therapist, dance school, etc. Creating the list will show you how many opportunities there are for connections. Avoid deleting a contact because you think they will never be able to help you. You never know who someone knows! For instance your cousin’s best friend.
  2. Prioritize the list and start connecting. Ask if they could spare some time for you, be specific about how much time you need and stick to the time limit. Be clear, to them and yourself, as to what you want to speak with them about. Are you looking for career advice? Do you want to know how they landed their job? Listen even if it doesn’t seem to apply. Strive to absorb at least one piece of information from each person you meet.
  3. Create a plan outlining what you need and what you can offer.
  4. Develop key relationships by maintaining contact through your job search and when you are successful – tell them. There is nothing more disappointing for a connection than sharing their valuable time with you and then not being thanked or never hearing from you again. Rookie mistake.
  5. Keep records about what you learn, who shared their knowledge and wisdom. Remembering details about each contact in your network may prove difficult over time.
  6. Develop a process to keep your network informed and follow up with members of your network. Relationships take time to build. You never know where the next opportunity is going to come from, who might help you and who you may help!

Finding meaningful employment is not about net-SITTING or net-WAITING (for someone else to make the connection), its net-WORKING. Get started today. Learn more about Employment Preparation.