The Job Seeker's 7-Step Guide to Networking

By John L. Nicodemus

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Bob McIntosh posted a You-Tube video on Linkedin titled My (Unemployed) Life. It is a light-hearted parody of the typical job searcher’s daily life. If you see yourself in this video, read on…

While this is an accurate and light-hearted look at the frustrations of the job search, it drives home the point that networking is the way to go. We are social animals and need the interaction with others. Sitting in front of a computer does not meet this basic need.

Many people spend their time on the computer, thinking that they are being productive, but the reality is that only about 20% of all jobs are found this way. We avoid the human interaction because we are embarrassed about being unemployed and are not comfortable trying to network. Once you learn how to be comfortable in a networking environment, you will be amazed at the increase in activity you will experience in your search. So here are my guidelines:

Step 1 - Identify

Start by listing everyone you know - family, family friends, neighbors, co-workers, ex co-workers, fellow church members, high school or college classmates, military buddies, etc.

Step 2 - Sort

Sort this list into three categories - A) those you think will be helpful in moving your job search forward in some way; B) those you are not sure can or cannot assist you; and C) those you are pretty sure cannot help you (you can never be totally sure whether or not not someone might be helpful).

Step 3 - Call

Everyone on the list must know that you are actively looking for a job and the type of job for which you are looking.
Call 5 - As, 3-Bs, and 2-Cs every day to set up one-on-one networking meetings.

Step 4 - The Meeting

You NEVER, EVER, EVER ask them for a job. Asking for a job tends to make for very short conversations, because most of your contacts will not have direct information about a particular position. Rather, you are asking for advice and help. You want to share your background and interests and get their input on what and where you might try looking. Other people may see strengths and skills in you that you have not recognized in yourself. This is a two-way conversation, ask about how you might help them as well.

Step 5 - Ask for Referrals

Ultimately, you want them to refer you to two other people who might be of more help in your search. This both moves your search forward and expands your network.

Step 6 - Follow-up

Follow up with all your contact on a regular basis to keep them informed of your progress. This will also serve to keep your name in a “top of the mind” status with your contacts should they become aware of a suitable position.

Step 7 - Follow-up Again

Let everyone in your network know when you land a position. Thank them personally for their assistance and advice, even if it was minimal. You may be able to return the favor one day, or, god forbid, you might need them again.

Activity is the key to a successful job search. The more people you talk and interact with the more positive activity you will generate. People hire people they know and like. The more activity you generate, the more people will get to know and like you, and sooner you will find that position you are seeking. Do not abandon your computer search but recognize that your most effective tool is networking and personal contact. Budget your time accordingly.

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