Many people consider networking to be a four letter word. But the fact is efficient networking can be the difference between applying for a job and applying and getting a job. You are not expected to have all the answers when it comes to networking, but knowing where to get those answers can be critical during your job search.
What is Networking?
Networking is the art of making social contacts in your spheres of influence. It begins where you are and letting those closest to you know your interests and goals. As you communicate enthusiastically your vision and goals for gaining the job of your dreams, your social network of friends, family, and acquaintances become extra pairs of eyes and ears. They know people that may be interested in what you have to offer. Through the hundreds of social contacts you have through family, religious affiliations, school, friends, and neighbors, you are immediately in contact with hundreds and thousands of people in a short period of time.
Getting a Conversation Started
Begin by talking to family members, make phone calls and catching up on family news. Ask them with genuine interest how they are and what they have been doing. Let them know your plans and how excited you are about the opportunities that are opening up to you. Ask them to keep an eye out for anyone who may need someone with your skills and abilities.
Greet neighbors who may be out in their yard. Stop by and say hi. Ask questions about their family and work life. Let them know of your plans to seek a new career direction. Ask them to let you know of any opportunities they become aware of someone who needs a person with your qualifications.
Make a list of everyone you know. Use numbers in your cell phone. Consult rosters and directories of religious organizations and rotary club. Talk with other parents at local PTA meetings. Make a target goal to share your vision and goal with at least 10 people per day.
But I’m So Nervous!
Fear is a natural emotion that we all face. Those who succeed are not people who do not have fear. They are ones who learn the trick of ‘feeling the fear, and doing it anyway’, according to motivational speaker and writer Jack Canfield. You cannot allow your fear to do the driving. Approach your fear as if it were a small child and acknowledge that what you are doing is a bit frightening. Then advise your fear that you intend to ‘go for it’ anyway.
The reality is that the worst thing that can happen is already true. You do not have a job now. If you get rejected you still do not have a job so little has changed. This means that life can only get better. This attitude will help calm fears and allow you to take charge of them.
Wrapping Up and Moving On
While you are doing the work of networking make sure you carry business cards wherever you go. Make exchanging business cards a normal part of your day. Say something such as “Here, let me leave you with my contact information. If you hear of any opportunities like the ones we have been talking about, be sure to let me know.” Be receptive if they wish to exchange cards with you as well.
Avoid talking about the reason for leaving your last position or how long you have been unemployed. Also, it is not productive to talk about economic needs and stress you are going through while you are looking for a job. The focus needs to be on communicating your vision and your decision to do something about it.
More About Finding Work