Almost every job search book or article stresses the importance of networking. For example, career strategist Sharon Reed Abboud says, "You need to be an active networker.... By networking, you can potentially set yourself apart from the scores of other applicants who apply for every job vacancy. In today's economy, employers are inundated with job applications. The best way to have your resume considered is by networking actively and trying to find people who can possibly recommend you for a job opportunity."
Experts estimate that only 15 to 25% of jobs are advertised on the Internet. The majority of available positions exist in the "hidden" job market. Networking is a key way to find those "hidden" job openings. Yet, while many job hunters recognize that networking is important, they will admit that they're not doing it because they're not sure what to do. Since networking is such an important job search strategy, let's look at what it is, what it's not, and some tips for doing it effectively.
What is networking? Simply stated, networking is building mutually beneficial alliances, or connections, with other people. Networking, at its best, is not a formal, contrived process. Instead, networking is talking to people whom you already know (or are willing to get to know), and having them help you expand your network of information and contacts.
Tips for Expanding Your Network
If you are looking for a new job or would like to find a better job, here are some important tips for networking. Following these suggestions can help you land a job faster:
- Define your job target (that is, the job title---such as accountant, customer service rep, etc.-you are going after). Other people can be of most assistance when they know what specific type of job you are seeking.
-Practice communicating clearly what skills and experience you have that qualifies you for that type of position. People will be more comfortable referring you to someone they know if they believe you are qualified for the job.
-Make a list of the people you already know (friends, relatives, coworkers, parents of your children's friends, former classmates, people from church, etc.). Reminding yourself who you already know is a great way to begin your networking.
-Expand your network by joining a professional association. This is a great place to meet people who work in your field of interest. Do an internet search to find the key associations for your field.
-Develop an online profile at Linkedin.com, and take advantage of the opportunity to join LinkedIn's alumni and professional groups to make new connections.
-Volunteer. In a survey volunteering was listed as the second best way to network. Also, and perhaps more importantly volunteering your time and skills will give you joy and energy as you focus on helping others. You can search for volunteer opportunities at http://christiancareercenter.christianvolunteering.org/
You never know when you will meet someone who could help you connect with just the right job! Here are some ways you can be prepared: stay well-groomed (even if you are just running errands); have extra copies of your resume or business cards available wherever you go ("just in case"); set goals for how many people you are going to contact each day; and, make it a habit to strike up conversations with new people while standing in line, at parties, your kids' sporting events, in the church pew, etc. Also, remember that networking is reciprocal: seek to provide some type of assistance to at least one person each day. The Bible tells us that we are to be servants, and that we will reap what we sow!
Networking can not only speed up the process of finding your next job, but it can also enrich your life with new relationships and opportunities both to give and to receive. Start today-your next job may just be a conversation away!
August 17, 2009
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. As National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling Coaches, they are recognized experts in helping people identify their giftedness and find their purpose in life. If you are interested in career coaching and testing to discover work that fits your God-given design; or would like assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, or other aspects of a successful job search, you can schedule a free consultation session at www.ChristianCareerCenter.com.