Start Networking !

By Joe Stein

Networking is the process of obtaining job leads, contact names and company information from business colleagues, family, and friends. Most Job Seekers have heard the term “networking” yet many choose to either ignore the option or use it half-heartedly. Networking, however, is crucial for any Job Seeker, but especially for the recently unemployed. So, let’s today take a full examination of networking and build a case why you should start immediately.
 
Why Do So Many Job Seekers Avoid Networking?
 
·         It Can Be Time Consuming – A portion of each day, if you are currently without employment, should be spent on networking. You should make a schedule each day and block out time to perform your daily job search tasks. That schedule should contain a sizable block for networking each day.
 
·         It is Hard Work - It is very tempting for Job Seekers to seek the path of least resistance in their job search. For most, it is much easier and certainly more comfortable to anonymously search the internet or mail your resume to an address listed in the paper than to network.
 
·         They Don’t Think They Know Anyone – The reality is that you probably have the capability of building a large network. Read below and find out how!!
 
·         It is Outside of Their Comfort Zone – It is true that you are going to need to reach out and call people and some of these people you may know only casually or not at all. So what? I would doubt you would want any prospective employer to know that you lack the initiative and gumption to network. What may help is to not go in with the mindset that you are asking for a job. The reality is that you are rather simply asking if they know of any open positions or others to network with.   Once you remove the initial fear, you will find this simple task easier and easier to do. 
 
Why Should You Network?
 
·         You Can Find Out About Open Positions First - Oftentimes, a newly created position is discussed months before it actually reaches the recruiting stage. Sometimes, these positions never reach advertising because they are filled with candidates applying before recruiting actively starts therefore rendering that process irrelevant. In the case of someone leaving an organization and giving notice, it sometimes takes a few days for advertising to occur, especially with the exceptionally long lead times of our regions daily newspapers. This may allow your resume to reach the Hiring Manager a few days ahead of the advertising, giving you a slight advantage over the competition. 
 
·         Find Out About More Openings - It is impossible for you to find/learn about all positions on the Internet or in the paper. As great of a source as wnyjobs.com is, not even this website has all available openings. There are so many company specific websites, print advertising sources, etc that unless you live in front of the computer only leaving to go to the store to buy newspapers then there will be positions that you will need networking help to discover. Some employers only advertise as a last resort in an attempt to save advertising dollars. A position may hit electronic or print only when networking has not proven fruitful. This especially can be the case with smaller companies who use “word of mouth” to fill positions.
 
·         Get a Good Word In - Many times an employer would prefer someone who is a referral from a trusted networking source. Hiring someone is a major decision, so a referral from someone trusted can reduce the stress and uncertainty in the hiring decision. 
 
Tips for Networking:
 
·         Get Started Right Away - It is very important that people know ASAP your current employment situation and that you are looking for a new job. Although we all recognize that a person sometimes needs a little time after unemployment before they go public with the news in order to come to terms with the situation. The reality is that each day you take, places you behind in your search.
 
·         Always Be On the Look-Out - Networking is an on-going process, as a savvy person will always have their network antenna up even when happily and gainfully employed. Obviously, a job seeker significantly increases their networking efforts for employment information. 
 
·         Check Out Your Professional Organization – If you are a member of a professional organization, either for your industry or profession, you should inquire about a directory. Most organizations will have, on their website, a directory (password protected) that members can use for networking purposes.
 
·         Larger the Better - When you make a networking contact, they will often then contact someone on your behalf who will contact someone…and so on. So with each contact, your visibility and the news that you are “on the market” grows, improving your chances of successfully learning about openings. Another point to consider is that even though a particular person may not work in your field or industry, they may know someone who does. The moral of the story: is do not needlessly eliminate people out of your network.
 
·         Make a List – When you start your networking mission, construct a list of everyone you can think of calling and their contact information. Most anyone can be used as a networking source. Family and friends are the most obvious choices, especially when you are in a situation where you are presently employed and you do not want your search to be common knowledge. If you are presently employed, review your business colleagues for individuals whose confidence you can trust with knowledge of your job search. If you are currently unemployed, then you are limited only by time in your networking. My only caveat would be that if you have a business colleague that is not well respected or regarded, you would want to limit this person in your networking. 
 
·         Expand Your Scope – As you speak to people on your list, use a portion of the time to pick the brain of the person for additional individuals that you may be able to add to your expanded network. If you are missing any contact information on your networking list, you may inquire if the person you are speaking to has any updated information.
 
·         Show Courtesy - Think of your network contacts as correspondents who are working on your behalf. Certainly respect their time and use e-mail and the telephone if that works best, but don’t shy away from taking someone to lunch to discuss your job search and aspirations. If a contact supplies you with a lead, send them a Thank You note in appreciation. These little touches will result in your contacts working that much harder on your behalf.
 
·         Use Modern Technology – The world of networking has changed significantly over the last few years as social networking sites become more popular.   These social networking sites allow you to create a profile that will be visible to others. It is a wonderful tool for building your network as, in most cases, you have access to the other person’s full network when they are part of yours. Recruiters also are increasingly using social networking sites to search for candidates for their open positions, particularly for those hard to fill. Facebook and MySpace are the most common social networking sites for personal use; however, LinkedIn is the most used site for business purposes. I would recommend you at least looking into LinkedIn to decide for yourself if this type of networking is right for you.
 
Networking is one of the most important parts of a job search, yet one of the toughest to start. Job seeking is all about providing you a competitive advantage or differentiating yourself positively from the others. Networking serves this role wonderfully and should be used by Job Seekers.
  

As always, I wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Joseph Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional
     joestein@wnyjobs.com     
Feel free to e-mail any questions or comments.
The following has been prepared for the general information of wnyjobs.com website visitors. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.