When it comes to job searching, there is some truth in the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
While what you know is important for a successful interview, who you know often helps you learn about job openings in the first place. This is “networking” and with at least 60% of all jobs being found this way, it is one of the most successful ways to find a job. This makes sense when you consider that 80% of job vacancies are not advertised externally.
So, if networking is such a valuable job search strategy, why don’t more people use it? Often, people find the idea intimidating. However, consider this: networking is simply talking to people. You are networking when you…
• visit with friends and family members
• talk to your neighbours
• attend meetings and conferences
• connect with friends and former colleagues on social media.
When you talk to people in your network, let them know that you are looking for a job, what you are looking for and find out who they know who can help you with your job search. The more people you speak to, the more likely you are to be successful. Perhaps your neighbours’ brother works in human resources at the company you would love to work for, or maybe your hair stylist is married to someone in your field that has some job leads. Every person you talk to may be the lead you are looking for so make sure you represent yourself well.
To get started, make a list of all the people you can contact. List as many people as you can; you don’t need to know them well, you just need to be able to start a conversation with them.
Then, contact each person. People are usually quite happy to help when they can so don’t worry about “bothering” them. And remember, you aren’t asking them for a job. You are letting them know the type of job you are looking for, what your skills and abilities are, and you are asking if they can refer you to someone who may have a job opening or know of someone with a job opening for a person with your skills.
Try to make at least one new contact each time you speak with someone, add them to your list and record any other useful information. This will help you grow your network, remind you of what you have learned and allow you to follow-up when it is appropriate.
Networking gets easier the more you do it. So start that list and make that first call, right now.