A Primer on Networking

Lets revisit these best practices of networking for today’s #takemebacktuesday post.

Many positions don’t make it to job boards. Even fewer are advertised these days. As a result, networking is imperative for an effective job search. And it’s a good idea to practice even when you’re not actively looking.

Here are some basic steps to plan your networking activity.

1. Figure out how you’re going to keep a record of your network, how you’re going to add to it and how you’re going to use it efficiently. There are lots of mobile apps to help. Here’s an article from Inc. Magazine about 10 networking apps.

2. Enter all your contacts – all of them. Don’t leave anyone out, even if you’re not sure how he or she might be helpful. Those contacts might come from work, associations, schools from elementary to university, family, church, military, lawyers, bankers, merchants, social contacts, etc. You’d be surprised where some job leads come from.

3. List your objectives. Ask yourself; “What do I want to find out from these people?” Leads? More connections? Advice?

4. Write a script. It will not only make your calls more efficient, it will help you evaluate your objectives.

5. Put Social Media to good use. Devise a strategy to use or not use social media to extend your reach. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are great. Here’s an article from US News about just that.

6. Get on the phone. After in person meetings, the phone will be your most effective networking tool. Begin by contacting people you are most comfortable with. Tell them why you’re calling. Get at least one additional contact from every call. Some contacts will be worth meeting in person and contacting more than once. Email can be a great introduction tool, but a conversation is best for networking.

7. Help your connections help you. Tell them how they can help. Or you might give them some time to think over your requests. People respond best when they are asked for things they can actually do.

8. Measure your progress. Don’t confuse efforts with results. If you don’t seem to be getting what you were expecting, review what you’re asking or whom you’re contacting and make adjustments.

9. Follow up. Remember to send thank-you notes. Emails are fine. Let people know if and how they’ve helped and when you find that great job or make a career decision, spread the news. Your contacts will be happy to hear that they’ve been of assistance. You will stand out if you do this and future networking will be much, much easier.

10. Know the professionals. Recruiters you trust and who know your specialty are part of your network. You might have a different set of questions for a headhunter, but they should be an important part your network.

Finally, networking doesn’t stop with accepting a job. Your network of contacts will be useful for questions on the job, for ongoing career evaluation and the next time you’re looking around.