You’ve heard that networking is crucial when you’re looking for a new job, but you may not feel that it can really work for you.
In my previous posts I’ve presented a networking method that has been proven effective by thousands of smart job seekers. This post will help you put it into practice.
If you haven’t yet read the other posts, my January 8th post introduced the concept, explaining why a marketing plan and target companies list are so essential. Last week’s post showed a sample Personal Marketing Plan and how referring to your plan can help you set up a one-on-one meeting with new contacts who may be able to help you in your search.
This may leave some questions in your mind.
Frequently Asked Questions
“Who will I network with? I don’t have a lot of professional contacts.”
Start with anybody – former co-workers, managers or clients, classmates and professors, family members – and build from there. As long as you end every conversation with “Who else should I talk to?” you will continually get closer to valuable inside contacts and hiring managers.
This is where LinkedIn can be tremendously helpful. Many people find Facebook and Twitter useful as well for building a network of relationships that you can then deepen with strategically chosen one-on-one meetings.
“What will I do and say in the one-on-one meetings?”
After a little friendly chitchat, take a moment to go over your skills and the type of organizations you’re interested in, as described in your Personal Marketing Plan. Then give a copy of that document to your contact and ask these three questions:
- What do you know about any of the companies on this list?
- Given my criteria, what other organizations should I add?
- Who else should I talk to?
Jot down any information they give you, without evaluating it, as in a brainstorm. Then go talk to the people they referred you to. And so on!
“How should I follow up afterwards?”
First, send a thank-you card, not an email. A card feels more appreciative, and it’s likely to sit on the person’s desk for a while, reminding them that you exist. Remember, your goal is to maintain a relationship for ongoing mutual benefit. Otherwise, assurances that “I’ll keep you in mind and let you know if I hear of anything” aren’t worth much. Buy a box of cards ahead of time.
And always report back to your contacts about how you followed up and what it led to. People want to know how their advice was helpful, and finding out helps keep them interested in your search.
Look for ways to be helpful to your contacts. Perhaps you asked a question and the reply was “I wish I knew – that information would be helpful to me, too.” When you later find the answer elsewhere, send it on to your contact.
“What are the results of all this?”
You’ll gradually find that you’re becoming well informed about companies among whom may be your next employer. Information is power! For example, it can help you write a much smarter cover letter. And of course, you’re becoming known to people who may hear of an opening. You’re on track toward accessing those three quarters of all jobs that are filled through word of mouth.
“How can I organize all this information I’ll be gathering?”
A contact management system or other database is extremely helpful. I recommend JibberJobber. You’ll have paper as well – notes, cover letters, etc. Sort it into categories and label some file folders. Get organized early in your search, before it gets overwhelming.
Make sure you have a system for reminding yourself to follow up on certain dates. You can use JibberJobber for this, for example, or schedule tasks in Outlook and/or keep a tickler file.
If networking with a Personal Marketing Plan is not working for you, or you have a problem with starting, that problem has a solution. Don’t give up. Keep trying. You may want to check out my Networking Jumpstart service and enlist me to help you maximize your networking productivity.
Make networking work for you!