Every job seeker has heard about the importance of networking in the job search. How much do you know about how to make it work for you?
Number a piece of paper from 1-10, then jot down True or False next to each number. When you’re finished, scroll down to the bottom for the answers.
True or False?
- Employment experts’ opinions vary as to what percentage of hires are due to networking, but most state something in the ballpark of 70-80%.
- The most efficient way to network is to ask as many people as possible whether they know of any job openings for you.
- For most job seekers, the best way to network is to go to as many events as you can–chamber of commerce mixers, for example–and introduce yourself with an elevator pitch that sells your skills.
- For most job seekers, the best way to network is to create a list of companies you’re interested in working at, then seek introductions to people connected to those companies. If you’ve spoken to everyone you know and still can’t get any introductions, go ahead and email someone you don’t know, because they may talk with you anyway.
- Once you have a target companies list you should show it to all of your networking partners to prompt them to give you information and leads about those companies.
- In a 20-minute meeting it’s optimal to spend only about 5 minutes talking about your background and selling your skills, and about 15 minutes asking questions and having a discussion.
- In every networking meeting it’s wise ask for names of other people you should talk to.
- After a networking meeting you should follow up regularly to see if any jobs have opened up.
- LinkedIn is a great tool for finding out more about people you want to talk with, including who they know. You can also break the ice with new contacts by commenting on their posts.
- The only job seeker who shouldn’t devote time to networking is one seeking a job in a new industry or a remote location where they don’t have contacts.
Don’t peek at the answers below until you’ve written down your answers!
Oh, you’ve already written them down? Okay, here you go:
- True. Much of that networking was undoubtedly intentional; in other cases the person may have been “just talking to people” and didn’t necessarily think of it that way. Either way, employers prefer to hire someone who is a “known candidate,” whether that means someone they already know or someone who came through a referral.
- False. By the time a job is openly announced you may have hundreds of competitors. Networking is about being the only candidate, or one of just a few, or one who stands out from those who came in “cold.”
- False. There are two problems with this approach: First, it’s not targeted toward your specific job market (target companies). Second, selling your skills to people you’ve barely met is a turnoff and unlikely to build the kind of relationship that leads to introductions and referrals.
- True. This is the method most highly recommended by employment experts. It has been shown to get people into good jobs faster.
- False–just barely, so give yourself half a point. It can be helpful to show your target companies list to many of your networking partners, but not to all of them. Don’t mention your list to hiring managers or others within your target companies. In those meetings, focus on finding out about the company’s needs and discussing how you can help meet them, as you would in a job interview.
- False. For a better plan, read my review of an excellent book called The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.
- False–just barely. Obtaining introductions is an important goal, but asking for them can be viewed as an imposition, putting your contact on the spot. Make sure you’ve developed a good rapport first. Sometimes it’s best to ask later, when the person has come to trust you and has decided you’re someone their contacts will enjoy meeting.
- False–again, just barely. Following up regularly is important, but not to ask about job openings, unless your contact specifically suggested you do so. A better follow-up would be a quick update (via email) reporting back on how you followed their advice and gained something from doing so. If possible, offer something of value to them, such as an introduction or a useful or amusing article related to their interests. (Aim to learn about their interests in that first meeting so you’ll know what they’re interested in.)
- True. An engaging profile and a large number of LinkedIn connections help this key tool work well for you.
- False. If you’re transitioning to a new field or location, that’s all the more reason you need to network, since applying to jobs online often doesn’t work well for out-of-towners. Read my post about networking to find a job in a different city. Much of that post also applies to seeking a job in a new field: substitute the word “field” or “industry” for “city” and go from there.
Now, how did you do?
If you answered correctly 5 questions or fewer: You may find networking to be stressful and ineffective. Have you given up on it–or perhaps never even tried it– thinking that you’re just not the kind of person who can do it well? Good news: You can do it, you just haven’t been aware of the best practices until now. Using what you’ve learned from this quiz will be a strong first step toward much better results.
If you answered correctly 6-8 questions: You have a lot of what it takes to network effectively; you just need to rethink a couple of things and experiment with new approaches. Go forth, practice and keep learning.
If you answered correctly 9-10 questions: You’re probably having great success with networking (assuming you’re actually acting on your knowledge).
For one-on-one help with effective job search networking, contact me. It doesn’t come naturally to most people, and it can really help to have an expert answering questions and cheering you on.