JOB & CAREER NETWORKING
THE CAREER PLAYBOOK GUIDE
6. GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR: Networking
creates opportunities to make contact with decision makers
before a new job opening is formally announced. At the
very least, you will only be competing with a handful of
people rather than perhaps hundreds of job applicants.
Timing is Everything
Companies determine their hiring needs long before a job opening is announced formally.
In many cases, these jobs are never openly advertised. During this time they conduct a
search to see if anyone within the organization knows of a talented person who might be
available. It is during these short windows of opportunity that your networking strategies
should be fully deployed.
Many times, finding a job simply means being the right person at the right time, with the
right attitude, the right skills, and the right contacts. It's not only what you know but
who you know that leads to an employment opportunity.
Networking is a powerful job search tool. Over 60% of jobs in the "hidden market" are
filled through "insider" contacts. Networking can help you develop contacts among
influential people who might provide assistance with your job search. They can give you
inside information on an organization, such as: the hiring manager's name, types of people
he/she tends to hire, names of people who have the jobs you want, skills required for a
particular position, the corporate culture, and any changes that may be in the works.
Know What You Want
The sole objective of one's search should be to establish a good job/career fit. It is as
much in your interest to be employed in a role for which you are well suited as it is for
the employer to have the right person in the right job. Once you assess your strengths,
such as: the skills you most enjoy using, the interests that are critical to your sense of
job satisfaction, and the values that motivate you to achieve success, you are then ready
to explore employment opportunities that fit your job and career objectives.
Take the time to know yourself thoroughly. Career planning studies have found that most
job applicants are unable to convince employers that they have the required skills needed
for the opening. You need to know which relevant qualifications will help you to do the
job you have targeted. It's critical that you know yourself and what makes you unique from
others who are seeking the same type of work.
Once your search identifies a selection of potential employers, narrow the list down to
the company's that are most likely a suitable fit for you. Whether or not your search will
turn up the ideal employer in the end depends on researching the right companies in the
beginning. Cast your net wide and remember that the best opportunities are with employers
who rarely advertise their job openings.
Keep in mind that you may not be the only candidate interested in these organizations.
You must convince the hiring authorities that you are uniquely suited for the position by
showing how your talents, skills and expertise are a perfect match for their needs.
What about an Internship -- Paid or Unpaid?
Confidence in who you are and what you have to offer translate into the ability to
articulate your skills, strengths and personality traits to the employer. Many of them are
willing to train if genuine interest and enthusiasm is shown. Regardless of what you have
for skills, it is the attitude you have of yourself that really convinces an employer to
Once you have an internship you will have an opportunity to learn new skills and
understand a brand new industry. Take advantage of the new tools and software which you
will be using and do your best to learn from the experienced full-time staff of the
company with which you are interning. An internship can open the door to opportunities in
a new industry by providing skills and experience you didn't have before.
You may have to provide free labor to get the job you want. Top executives have donated
a few weeks or a couple of months to prove the value they'll bring to a company. If you
can gain the required knowledge you lack for your next job, you're in on the ground floor.
During this probationary period, if you prove that you have what it takes to do the job
and are an asset to the company, they'll want you on their team.
Networking is essential to your search and your key to the hidden market. The community
of contacts you assemble can provide critical details on job leads, vacancies and
industry trends. They'll also tell you what you'll need - to succeed - in your search
for a new or better job.
The following information will help you meet people in your field and network with them
The Basic Steps -- Building a Base of Contacts
It's important to remember you are trying to get information from these people, not
necessarily a job. Asking friends or associates for a job outright can put them off and
make you sound over-anxious or desperate.
- Start by talking with friends and close associates. Even if they are not
employed in your field they may have career information and contacts that can be
- Base your approach on how well you know and trust each person. Let him or her
know you are looking for a job and you would appreciate advice, ideas, and
suggestions. Bring up the subject of your job hunt in general, then ask if you can
sit down to discuss it later. This is to enable your friend/acquaintance to
prepare in advance.
- Don't be afraid to call people you have not talked with in a long time; most
people are flattered when asked for advice.
• Be open and go into details about the kind of work and organizations that interest
Possible Networking Contacts
- Friends and family
- In-laws and relatives
- Neighbors (current and past)
- Social Acquaintances (golf, swim, tennis, social clubs)
- Classmates (from any level of school)
- College Alumni (get a list of those living in your job search area)
- Old roommates
- Church members
- Former teachers
- Parents of your children's friends
- Anyone you wrote a check to in the past year: tradespeople, doctor, dentist,
pharmacist, optician, lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, travel agent
- Real estate agent
- Financial consultant
- People you've worked with as a volunteer
- Manager of your local bank
Business Networking Contacts
- Co-workers and former co-workers
- Friends who left for another firm
- Professional acquaintances
- Peers working in other companies
- People you've worked with on a project
- Members of professional groups
Don't dismiss anyone from your list because you have not talked to them for some time.
It is common to lose touch with family, friends, and colleagues as life situations change.
If the original relationship was valued, your contacts will return your calls and they
will want to help.
Tell the members of your network you are conducting a job search campaign. If they
haven't heard about your departure from your last position, frame the news in a way that
lets them know you are dealing well with the emotions of the situation and are ready to
move on to a new professional challenge. Create opportunities to talk to new people,
especially those in different segments of your industry, other industries, positions of
leadership or other roles that allow them to know about future growth plans.
Early in the conversation, reassure the person the real reason for your contact is to get
information, not that you expect them to find you a job. Ask for advice on the types of
companies or jobs that would best suit you. (You may be surprised at their answers.)
Depending on the individual, inquire about the condition of things in their
company/industry, what they hear about business conditions locally, and/or who do they
know who has changed jobs recently. Once you have identified your list of targeted
companies, mention them. Ask for the names of other people you should talk to, and ask
their permission to use their names as a referral.
Quick Networking Tips:
1) The first step is to know what you want to do. Before you pick up the phone to begin
networking, take a moment to collect your thoughts. Ask yourself, what do I want? If it's
help, be specific. Do you need ideas, names or introductions? Make a list of the items
that will help you stay focused during your conversation. Most people really want to help
you with your job search, but first, they must understand what you want. Then they can
determine how best to help you.
2) State your point clearly and succinctly. Always keep in mind that your networking
contacts are busy people. Be considerate of their time. Long, rambling dialogs are certain
to end your relationship before it ever has a chance to blossom. If you say your call will
only take 2 or 3 minutes, make certain you stay within that timeframe. Anything longer will
be perceived as a nuisance call, unless they specifically allow you more time. Your goal
should always be to take no longer than three minutes or three leads, whichever comes
3) Ask permission to use a name. Suppose you visited a contact to conduct an information
interview-a short, friendly question-and-answer session designed to help you learn more
about a profession or company. Your contact gives you the names of several referrals.
Before you leave, ask permission to use your contact's name as the original source.
He or she may want to contact the referrals first, which will make your calls proceed more
smoothly. But the main reason for asking permission is common courtesy. When you mention
names, you're capitalizing on your contact's rank and reputation within the business
world, so you want to make sure you have his or her knowledge and approval.
4) Remember you're never too old or successful to network. Don't think that executives or
others in authority positions are uninterested or unreachable. Many senior executives are
delighted to be contacted and want to share the knowledge they've acquired over the years.
Because of their seniority, they may be isolated and appreciate the chance to help you.
Then, when its your turn to help someone, you can react in kind. Helping others in a
reciprocal way can be very enjoyable, not to mention the deep sense of satisfaction this
brings into your life.
5) Never underestimate the power of a thank-you note. If a busy executive takes time to
meet you and assist with your job quest, acknowledge the help you receive with a
handwritten note. This lets him or her know you understand and appreciate their effort and
contribution. It also allows you to provide a short progress report and feedback about the
referrals. Last but not least, it paves the way for future contact.
- The best way to find a job is through networking with people that you know, are
acquainted with, or want to know.
- If you are enthusiastic and express appreciation, in most instances, people will
respond positively, and want to help you.
- Keep detailed written notes to avoid confusion about what transpired with your
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Once you start networking, don't stop.
- Networking is only one avenue to pursue in your job search. There is also the
Internet, classified ads, trade magazine ads, and developing a relationship with
a recruiter who specializes in your field of interest.