Make Networking a Central Part of Your Job Search
By Johnna Major, President, Cornerstone HR
The competition for jobs today is intense. With more people out of work, the number of applicants for open positions is growing rapidly.
When you apply for a popular position your resume could be one in hundreds vying for the same job. In those cases, candidates whose resume most closely mirrors the job posting will get the interviews.
So, how do you get in? You've got to find a way to meet someone in the company who can introduce you to the hiring manager. You accomplish that by networking.
How to Begin Networking
- Be clear about what types of positions and companies you are interested in working for.
- Begin tapping everyone - your friends, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, community group members, college alumni association, you name it - to find people who work in these types of positions and/or work at your target companies.
- Find groups in your community that you have a connection to and participate in their meetings and conferences. A quick look in the calendar section of a local publication will let you know what's going on. Find the groups that interest you most and become a regular attendee so that people recognize you.
There are numerous venues for networking. New social and professional networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn help you make connections with colleagues, co-workers and friends.
Remember, most people you meet while networking have been in the position of looking for a job and are more than willing to help.
Tips for Success
- In all networking interactions: Be well prepared so you come across as focused and professional. A networking contact will want to feel confident referring you to a colleague or friend.
- At group networking meetings: Have a business card to hand out. Avery Dennison makes a nice template package so that you can make a professional looking card with your contact information.
- At other business meetings: Remember that almost everyone at the meeting may be as nervous as you are about introducing themselves. Take the time to get to know them before jumping in with your networking request.
- If someone agrees to help you: Follow up with a thank-you note and arrange a time for a follow up meeting, if it's appropriate.
Networking is not a quick fix. You need to put the time and effort into meeting people and sustaining your networking efforts. But in the end, it usually pays off. And in the meantime, you've met some great people.
Johnna Major is founder and president of Cornerstone HR, LLC. She has over 20 years of business and HR experience, and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She is specially trained in strategic and operational planning processes, the ADKAR change management model, the Cape Cod Model for small organizational systems, and the Six Sigma methodologies for improving processes. For more information about her expertise and services please visit her website at Cornerstone-HR.com.