In the modern job market, finding a position through networking can often be easier than finding one in classified ads or on websites; most jobs are filled through word of mouth before being listed publicly. To the uninitiated, the idea of approaching other people and asking for help finding a job can be a little intimidating. However, by keeping a few things in mind, you can ensure a productive and enjoyable networking experience for everyone involved.
– Think of networking as getting to know people. To have a productive networking experience, you do not need to be pushy or aggressive. Anyone you meet, from a stranger in a checkout aisle to a parent of your child’s classmate, can be a potential source for job information. If you stay open and friendly and focus on building relationships with people in your field, you will find that your network grows quickly.
– Begin networking with your references. You probably already have a list of people who are willing to be a reference for you during your job search. Rather than waiting to contact them until you already have a target position identified, ask them early on if they know about any jobs coming open. Because your references have already expressed enthusiasm for your skills, they are a great source of job leads.
– Consider volunteer work. Volunteering can be an excellent way to meet people in your field, and if you find a volunteer position related to the job you want, it can also be a way of building your resume.
– Focus on building a high-quality network. It may feel good to have many contacts, but if those people cannot or will not help you, your networking attempts may not yield a position. People in your network should be able to do several things: challenge you as well as support you; tell the truth about you; help with your goals and not just talk about your achievements; and grow strong networks of their own.