Networking is a way of enlarging the circle of people that you know. Networking is about sharing information and developing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Whenever you talk with others and seek their opinion, you are networking.
If you are a job seeker, networking should be a vital part of your search for new employment. The process of building or expanding your network serves three important purposes.
First, you will be better able to uncover the “hidden job market,” those jobs that are not advertised. Secondly, you will build a team of supporters to encourage you during your job search. Finally, you will create more security for yourself and your career over the long term.
The following steps can help you become a more effective networker:
1. Give people a way to help you. Rather than saying “I am looking for a job. Do you know of any jobs?” ask for their advice, ideas, and suggestions.
2. Create a structured plan. Decide how many people you need to call or meet with each week. Set goals and be disciplined about achieving them.
3. Pace yourself. Make telephone calls when your energy is high and you are feeling enthusiastic and upbeat. No one can be “on” constantly, and forcing a positive attitude seldom leads to making a good impression.
4. Know what to say. Make sure that you know what you want to get out of the telephone call or meeting before taking up someone else’s time. Are you looking for specific information or the name of a referral? Be clear not only about your own agenda but about what you have to offer your network contact as well.
As Keith Ferrazzi said in his book "Never Eat Alone," “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”
Ferrazzi goes on to say that it doesn’t matter how talented you are, what set of skills you possess or where you come from. Nothing that we achieve is achieved in a vacuum. People are the catalyst that helps each one of us attain our goals.
Even though at this moment it may feel like your entire focus revolves around getting a new job, the reciprocal relationships that you build through your networking will be of paramount value to you now and in the future.