A critical tactic in your job search toolbox is networking, but it may not feel as though your efforts are getting the results you want. Evaluate your approaches and make sure you are using your time wisely to get results more quickly.
Choose business networks.
Effective networking does not focus solely on talking with friends and family. Of course, you will discuss your job search with your informal network, but this is not the network that is likely to land your next job. Think in terms of business contacts, professional and community organizations, and even former professors or workshop leaders. You need to focus on people who are active in the business community in order to effectively use your network.
Maintain constant contact.
This point can feel like a balancing act. While you don’t want to be a pest, you need to maintain high visibility with your business network in order to be considered as a viable candidate for job openings. Set your own goal for the number of contacts you will pursue. A goal of 3 to 5 weekly contacts is reasonable when you are conducting a full-time job search. Carry business cards with you for casual encounters and consider a more complete bio, resume, or project sheet for scheduled meetings. Remember to have your own business cards made so that you are not using anything related to current or former employers. You don’t want to imply that you are looking for a job using company resources! Follow the example below to create your personal business card.
Ben or Betty Job Seeker
Human Resources Manager
(LinkedIn profile or website)
Diversify your efforts.
Don’t rely solely on social media or local groups. You need to use all resources available to you. Consider professional career strategists, local business organizations, and online sources. For social media sites such as Facebook, present an appropriate image. Remove any questionable photos or postings, such as complaints about your former boss or party pictures. Consider using LinkedIn to expand your network. Research any professional organizations that may also have job boards. It could be worth the membership to expand your professional network and use any online resources they may have for job seekers. Finally, don’t forget local sources, such as the Chamber of Commerce or civic groups composed of business leaders (for example, the Kiwanis).
Are you networking with people who are making hiring decisions? This goes beyond shifting your focus from informal networks of friends and family to a business network. Think about using your efforts effectively. You will get more results from some of the business leaders who are involved in local civic groups than networking with those contacts without hiring authority. That doesn’t mean you want to ignore those who answer the phones within an organization. You need to enlist them on your support team as well. Branch out to use the online resources mentioned earlier. If you are already on LinkedIn, review others with similar interests even if they are located across the country. Many professions are relatively small and one professional with hiring authority in New York may know someone hiring in your region.
Cultivate your network.
Cultivating a network takes time. Think of your professional network as a garden. Plant seeds with initial contacts. Weed out contacts that aren’t working. Fertilize those contacts that have greater potential in your targeted search. Constantly tend the network. You can’t expect results if you only reach out periodically or when you need some help. Think of ways to maintain contact with your network on a regular basis. Perhaps you have updated your skills and want to let people know. Send out copies of interesting articles you have discovered. These activities keep your name present in the minds of network contacts.
Smart networking will help you use your time more efficiently and achieve results more quickly. With a targeted network, you are not the only one working to find you a job. You have multiplied your efforts many-fold with an active network. Evaluate your approach and do some smart networking to land your next job!
Alesia Benedict is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC)