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The Secrets of Successful Networking

Looking for a job is a job in itself. We've all heard this. So those on a serious job quest polish their resumes and dutifully distribute them around town. When I found myself in the job market last year, it was the way I began. Then I discovered aggressive networking.

For many, the concept of networking conjures thoughts of calling up people they know and having lunch or coffee with them and talking about opportunities that may exist in that person's company. Aggressive networking carries this a step further.

First, make a list of people you know who have jobs in your line of work or related to your line of work. Then sit down and call each person on your list and suggest that you meet for a coffee or something equally brief. There are two reasons for this. One, you don't want to take up a lot of the other person's time and two, lunches and dinners get to be expensive if you have many of them to buy.

Take networking seriously. That is, don't spread the meetings with your list of contacts out over a month-long period. Start on a Monday morning and call everyone to book a get-together for later in the week or at the latest, early next week.

When you have the meeting, keep it light. Don't show up with your resume and ask, "Do you know of any jobs?" This is simply a reconnaissance mission. The person you're having coffee with is in the business and knows what's happening. Ask for this information. Try saying something as simple and straightforward as: "You're plugged into what's going on around town. Any suggestions on who I can talk to about what might be coming up in the future?"

And here is the secret: Get three names from each contact. If I know the person really well, I out and out asked for three names of contacts. If I didn't know the person that well, I listened and if they mentioned a company, I asked something like: "Oh, XYZ Industries. Do you have any suggestions as to whom I could speak to over there?"

By the end of the week, you may have a couple of dozen names of people in the industry. Sit down the next Monday morning and call them. Introduce yourself, explain where you got their names and ask if you can have 15 minutes of their time. Suggest meeting for a coffee near their office. Often, the person will say something like, "Why don't you drop in around 3 p.m. We can talk here in my office."

Schedule your week, filling in time slots to meet people. And again, get three names from each of these people. After a while, you may notice an overlapping of names as your contacts give you names of people you have already contacted.

Don't ask for a job. Just the same as meeting with your acquaintances, keep it light. Say that you're looking for a place in the industry and in the meantime, you're making an all-out effort to keep plugged into what's happening.

Ascertain, if possible, what interests the people you meet. Keep a record of who you met and what their interests are. This gives you a good opening for recontacting them if you see an article or hear about something that might interest them. Keep in gentle contact with them.

You not only get your name spread around town so that when something does come up in your line of work you hear about it, there are ancillary benefits to this kind of dedicated and aggressive networking. You get to meet a wide variety of interesting people and your keep your working muscles intact by having a specific task to do each week: meet more contacts.

Did it work for me? Yes. And in the best possible way. I'd worked in communications previously and as I talked to more and more people, I began to have small contract jobs come my way. Something would come up at an office and someone I contacted would remember me and give me call. (Yes, I left business cards with everyone I met. Nothing fancy. My name, phone number and a line describing the type of work I do). I didn't take a corporate job after all because I got so much contract work and discovered that I not only like it better, I make more money at it. And the self-imposed discipline of making contacts trained me to be my own boss.

Read more: The Secrets of Successful Networking

Learn How To Network for HIDDEN Jobs

This career article will explain to you the benefits of networking. I will also provide some tips and sources that you can use immediately to start building your personal network.

I’ll quickly cover the following:

A) Why Network With People?
B) Five Networking Tips To Get Started.
C) Quick Networking Hints.
D) Sources To Start Your Network.

Career Networking Fact
Employers love referrals and first look to tap their own workers for people they know that can fill open positions. Its cheaper and provides for more quality employees.

By networking, you increase your chances of being personally referred and thus have your foot in the door.

Why Network With People?
It's true, some of the best jobs are never advertised. Many are filled by successful job seekers who networked with the right people and got the job before it was ever advertised.

It’s a proven fact that informal networking is a great method to gain more job leads and information about job opportunities that are not normally advertised. There is more to successful networking than just talking to your friends. To be a successful networker you must have as many contacts as possible hear your pitch and understand that you are in the job market. There are many studies and surveys that clearly show that networking made the difference for successful job seekers.

Now that you understand the power of networking, here are some tips and advice that will help you get started.

Five Career Networking Tips You Must Know
  1. Tip #1 Network Anywhere
    That’s the beauty of this strategy. You can network in a movie line, restaurants, church, a friend’s wedding, etc. Converse and communicate your desires to 20 people at the next social get together… those 20 people know 20 more people and so on. You get the idea. To get a jump on things, easily start with people you already know such as family and friends. The size of this network may surprise you.
  2. Tip #2 Network For Referrals
    Remember your goal: You want the people who you network with to eventually get your resume in front of the person doing the hiring. As you network you will meet many people at various companies. If you find out that a job is open at one of these companies, you will definitely have an advantage by saying you know so and so or even having that person “refer” you in. Companies always lean more towards inside referrals when hiring.
  3. Tip #3 Don't By Shy
    You never know who could have the perfect untapped job lead. For many people, there is an anxiety fear of just meeting new people and starting a conversation. Its really not that bad, if someone came up to you and started small talk, how would you feel? You wouldn’t think any less of the person would you? People by nature are of a social nature. Don’t be shy as it could cost you the perfect opportunity. By just dropping your name to the right person you only increase your chances.
  4. Tip #4 Don't Expect Leads Overnight
    If you are fresh to the job market, don’t expect to get a lead from everyone you talk to. It just doesn’t work that way and not that easily. For some contacts, it's important to build and nurture the relationship before asking about job leads. Don’t be too aggressive as that is usually a turnoff.
  5. Tip #5 Network For The Long Run
    Think of this as a long term career strategy. The contacts you make will only get stronger and the people you meet make now will move into higher positions. Once you find a job, don’t let the network collapse, it's important that you meet that old contact for lunch once a month or play raquetball with that old co-worker. This network that you form now will be extremely helpful for many, many years to come.
Three Quick Job Networking Hints
  1. Make an impression quickly when you first meet someone and try and get your story across before the conversation ends.
  2. Don’t be aggressive and ask about job openings the first time you meet someone. Be subtle in your approach.
  3. Try to get a business card, phone number, setup a future lunch date, etc., Basically, some method of future contact or follow-up so that you can develop this further.
Six Sources To Start Your Network
  1. College alumni association
  2. Churches, parties, weddings, almost any social gathering
  3. Your family (uncles, cousins, distant family)
  4. Former co-workers (as they migrate into other companies)
  5. Your professors, career counselors, faculty and advisors
  6. Your own friends and your friends’ parents or key contacts
Remember, networking can happen almost anywhere at anytime. The next person you bump into might bump into someone else who knows the uncle of the person who might just be offering your dream job! So now you have the fundamentals, start networking! Make new contacts, find more job leads, and make some great friends along the way.

This article can be read online and shared with others directly at:

Nathan Newberger
Managing Editor
"Helping You Find More Jobs Faster"
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