Over the years, I have received numerous calls from job seekers asking to network. When practical, I like to meet people in person, though I have successfully networked over the phone.
On average, I find most people network poorly. They think of it as a one shot discussion. Whoever is telling them that networking is broadcasting “I need a job“, and quickly moving onto the next person on their list is giving bad advice.
Networking is not about you needing me today, it is about both of us making an investment in each others’ success.
People who are connectors or network linkers (a person who connects two people) are valuable resources. To network effectively with a connector, consider these do’s and don’ts before you make your next call or have your next meeting.
- Be clear about your target market. When you come prepared with specific companies or individuals’ names, you will have greater success with people helping you to meet them.
- Know what kind of position you want. Companies still use job descriptions to define the skill, abilities and experiences they want in a candidate. Knowing which positions you are qualified for will make it easier for someone to match you to their contacts.
- Ask for a warm referral. A good network linker will often send an introductory email or make a phone call on your behalf, turning your next contact into a warm referral for you.
- Follow up with your network linker on any contacts they give you. If you receive recommendations on people to contact, let your network linker know what became of their suggestions. By doing this, you will demonstrate:
- Follow through. Your network linker will be more likely to send you more people or leads if they know you are using the information responsibly.
- Results count. Everyone wants to hear about a success story, or how one contact led to another, it may give them an idea of someone else to meet.
- Be prepared to help your network linker. Givers receive more referrals than takers. Think about how you can help your network linker achieve something of value to them. It might be a referral for business or an introduction to someone new. If in doubt, ask them. If you are not able to help them now, put it on your to do list and become a network linker too!
- Know what geographical area you want to work in. Think through the implications of taking a job outside of your immediate area. Are you willing to make the move? If not, let your network linker know so they don’t waste anyone’s time with unproductive discussions.
- Ask for advice. Your network probably has a few words of wisdom which might aid you in your search.
- Let your network know where you land. Letting people know how to find you once you get a job will send the message they were important to you during your job search.
- Keep in touch. Everyone gets busy when they have a new job. Put it on your calendar 3-6 months out to reconnect with your network. Make a point to do it yearly.
- Talk about your old employers negatively. If you still harbor ill feelings for why you were let go, you are not ready to network. The people you meet do not want to hear about how you were unfairly treated or that your boss was psychotic. Rarely, do you find the sympathy vote from this disclosure.
- Do all the talking. You will come off me-centric. Ask questions and listen.
- Appear needy and desperate. People are more willing to help someone who is confident. If you think you are too emotional, delay the meeting.
- Expect your network to open up their entire address book to you. When you meet someone new, they maybe hesitant to share their all their contacts with you. Why? For several reasons:
- Who the network linker refers is a direct reflection on them.
- Not all their contacts are networkers.
- Some contacts only want a referral if there is an immediate need.
- Call upon your network when you are only in trouble. You will receive a lukewarm to cold response if you only reach out when you need a job. People know when they are being used.
I welcome any other networking insights – what has worked for you as a job seeker or as a network linker.