You know that networking is essential to an effective job search. You’ve heard that most people find their next job that way. So all the articles and speakers have told you: network, network, network. “Always be connecting,” as job search coach and career expert Michael Goldberg puts it so well.
But networking doesn’t come naturally for many people. Many job seekers wonder if they are networking properly. What is the essence of networking?
Let me take a stab at it, since I have been networking for many years, going all the way back to the first time I read Richard Nelson Bolles’ classic book “What Color Is Your Parachute.”
In interviews, Bolles has said, “The preferred way to get your name into a company that interests you is through your contacts,” by finding “someone you know that knows someone there. If you don’t have a contact there it won’t work.”
That’s it, essentially. Everything you need to know is packed into that statement. So let’s unpack it. There are three essential elements:
Bolles recommends starting with “…a company that interests you.” Bolles and many other career transition experts all agree: an effective job search is a purposeful one. What is your purpose? In other words, what do you want to do and where do you want to do it? What companies interest you? Make a list. And pursue them.
Bolles says, “Contacts, contacts, contacts. They can be social networks, friends, and family.” Make another list, Bolles says, this time of everyone you know. These are your first degree contacts. Each one of them knows a bunch of people. Those people are your second degree contacts. Each of those people knows a bunch of other people. Those are your third degree contacts. And so on. In a nutshell, your contacts are the currency of an effective job hunt. You want to invest in them continuously and grow that investment.
Bolles has often said that resumes are poison because employers assume you are lying. So what is the answer? Bolles says you have to get your name known to them first! Then they will want to see the resume you slaved over. How do you do this? Use your network of contacts; it’s the recommended way to get your name known. When you are referred by an insider, they will want to see you. Finding someone who works there is the key! How do you find people that work at a company you are interested in? Before the advent of LinkedIn, it was tougher. But now, with LinkedIn, you have a great research tool that will not only identify names (and faces) but a pathway from You to Them.
In addition to utilizing the modern social media tools like LinkedIn (as well as blogging, Facebook, and twitter), don’t neglect the good old fashioned avenues for face-to-face networking such as affinity groups (e.g. FENG, MENG, etc); faith-based groups (e.g. the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ); library groups (e.g. Neighbors helping Neighbors); job search support groups (e.g. Breakfast Club, Careers in Transition, etc); as well as the excellent Professional Service Groups like PSGCNJ that are still functioning across New Jersey.
Go to these groups on a regular basis. Become known. Pitch in and help others. If there is a fourth C in the networking process, it is Caring. If you care about others and try to help them, even if only by listening and showing that you can relate to what they are feeling, they will care about you.
So now you have the 3 (+1) C’s of essential networking. When you put them together and work them every day, you will shift the job search odds in your favor in no time.
Terrence H. Seamon is an organization development consultant who provides leadership and team development services to employers in New Jersey. His forthcoming book, “Lead the Way,” explores the challenges of leadership. Additionally, Terry is a job search and career coach whose book “To Your Success” provides a motivational guide for anyone in transition. An alumnus of PSG, Terry co-founded and co-moderates the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via his website: http://about.me/terrenceseamon