Career experts agree that most job offers come from personal connections or “networking.” Here’s a list of four things you should know to help you be a successful networker:
1. Networking is for everyone.
No matter your occupation, education, or ability, networking is a strategic tactic for all job seekers no matter who you are or what you do. According to DEED’s Creative Job Search Guide, an effective job seeker gets organized, creates a daily schedule and networks. It’s best to schedule networking activities for 40 to 80 percent of your time searching for work each day. Sitting for long hours in front of the computer is unlikely to get you good results. The Bottom line: Spend a lot of time doing networking activities such as:
- Informational interviews.
- Direct employer contact.
- Emailing updates to existing contacts.
- Updating your social media status.
- Networking and participating in job clubs.
- Following up on social media connections.
- Attending Job fairs.
2. Role playing informational interviews is great practice.
We encourage you to attend workshops on job search techniques at your local Minnesota WorkForce Center. They give you a great opportunity to practice making pleasant and casual conversation with other job seekers and learn about the occupations and industries they have been employed in. Ask about where they worked, what they did, whom they know – people are generally happy to tell you about themselves. Really listen, take it all in and consider taking some notes in your Networking Log. Then, offer a little information about yourself and let the conversation continue organically.
3. It really is whom you know.
What is an employer’s bottom line? It’s not the organization’s mission. To keep any organization operating, it has to be financially sustainable. Imagine yourself as an employer. Whom do you trust to keep your ship afloat? Employers look for new workers they can trust. That’s why they prefer to hire people who are referred to them by their employees. Build rapport by networking, staying connected with existing contacts and making new ones. Cultivating contacts in your network will help you build relationships that can ultimately lead you to your next employer.
4. Be constantly ‘on your game’ when you’re out and about.
Stay in job search mode whenever you leave home. You never know who you will meet doing even the most mundane errands. View visits to the library, grocery store and pharmacy as opportunities to network. For example, try starting a conversation during your next visit to the library. Tell the librarian that you’re looking for a new job and what type of work you’re looking for. You could gain a new contact for growing your network or learn about the perfect job opening.
Remind yourself, networking isn’t begging for a job. By definition, networking is a supportive system of sharing. Start now!
By Marney Curfman, job search workshop instructor at the Minnesota WorkForce Center –St. Cloud.