Networking Your Way Toward a New Career

Job hunting can be an arduous task, especially if you are unemployed.  However, even in this case, your “job” is to find a job.  If you get up every morning, spend eight hours each day genuinely and actively looking for work, chances are you will find a paying position in a relatively reasonable amount of time.  Nevertheless, there are strategic ways to speed up the process.

Here, we will explore networking, one of the most effective ways to increase your odds of finding, not just a job, but a career position.

Overlooked Networks

When searching for work, our first course of action is usually to scour the internet and local publications.  Yet, it’s common to overlook, or even underestimate, the merit and value of the people you know when it comes to expanding your job hunt.  The entire world is connected in so many seemingly unobserved ways that we often have no real idea of who we’re connected to.

Nowadays, your average citizen has over 600 contacts.  Naturally, that includes your friends and relatives.  Others inside your sphere are former coworkers, employers, employees, schoolmates, associations, gymnasiums, religious institutions, political affiliates, parent/teacher organizations, trade unions, or any other social groups or clubs you may belong to.

It’s a good idea to put the word out in as many places as possible that you are looking for job-leads; as they can arise in any place, even when least expected.


Job Fairs

No matter your age or professional level, job fairs are a common, yet helpful way to increase the size of your network.  If they are closely aligned with your expertise or interests, that is an obvious advantage; however, there is really no reason to skip any particular job fair.  Even companies in the most unlikely fields still need Accounting, Operations, HR, and Project Management leaders and staff.

Grow Digitally

Of course, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are there for the taking, yet, in the world of job-seekers, we know that social media is particularly inundated.  Conversely, by being influential in your field and community, you will automatically appear on the radar of recruiters who are looking for exceptional people.  The best way to achieve influential status is to participate.  Answering questions and contributing to discussions in a thoughtful and useful way shows that you offer value to a situation and are an asset to your community.

Valuable Contacts

The contact doesn’t have to be from your specific industry in order to be deemed valuable.  A good network has a wide variety of people in it, from a range of professions.

How do you decide if someone is a good contact?   If they are passionate about something, and seem to find you interesting, that’s a very good basis for connecting with them as a contact.

From a practical standpoint, if you want to connect with them, then chances are dozens of others have most likely felt that way before.  Consequently, that person probably has a large network which you can also tap into.

Stay Connected

One of the most common mistakes is to build a network and then not maintain contact with it.  Stay in touch, but don’t spam your contacts with useless content, just to remain seen.  Moderation and mindfulness are imperative.

If you come across something interesting, figure out who might find it useful, and pass it on to them (only).  If you’re attending a conference, this might be worth mentioning, particularly if you’re seeking advice about how to obtain the most benefit from it, as this would be a good opportunity to let other people feel useful to you by offering their insights.  Remember the “give and take” motto to keep the relationship balanced.

The Takeaway

Generally speaking, there are no bad contacts.

Case in point, William Wrigley Jr. started out selling soap door-to-door, and began giving away baking powder to encourage sales of soap.  He switched to selling baking powder when he realized that his customers wanted that more than they wanted soap.  Subsequently, he then started giving away chewing gum to encourage baking powder sales, but he suddenly learned that his customers’ demand for the chewing gum had exceeded even the baking powder.

Now, imagine having befriended William Wrigley Jr. when he was simply a soap and baking powder salesman, before he founded Wrigley’s Gum, with more than $10 billion in assets and annual sales last year.

Regardless of the source, if you share a connection or common ground with someone, that’s a good reason to have them in your network.  If you only have people who are more successful than you in your network, you might not have much to give back.

On the other hand, helping someone who might be successful next week, or next year, can offer a remarkable payback.  Be helpful; be noteworthy; be rewarded.

By Fred Coon, CEO


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