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December 11, 2017

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Network…The Right Way

I receive lots of emails from job seekers looking to network. Here’s one I received over the weekend from a fellow I don’t know and have never heard of:

Hello,

Here is my updated resume and contact information. I am looking for an expert in turning things around and finding work or income opportunities through networking and/or referrals.

I am sorry if this reaches you in error. I am sending emails to a list that has staffing firms and HR in companies but some are individuals. I don't have time to scrub the list, so if you receive this in error please delete it and reply to be removed from any further communication.

I was struck by this email for two reasons. The first is that he is sending S.P.A.M. hoping to land a job offer. What a weird way to leave a positive impression on someone¾by sending what people detest the most: S.P.A.M.

The second is that he wrote, “I don't have time to scrub the list.” He doesn’t have time? Is he kidding? He is sending his resume to companies he hopes can help him and he doesn’t have time to ensure that he is targeting the right people. Geez!

I can hear this fellow a couple of months from now talking to his friends about how “no one will give him a chance” and how he “tried networking and it never works.” What he will fail to realize, however, is that networking does work. Statistically, 70 to 85 percent of job seekers find a job through their contacts.

Unfortunately, the way he has decided to network 3/4 if we can even call sending unwanted emails to complete strangers networking 3/4 will sabotage his efforts to gain employment. Don’t make the same mistake. Take the time to learn effective networking techniques.

Effective Networking Techniques

Step One:

Be sure that your resume is in top-notch shape. Don’t allow others to see your resume if it doesn’t effectively represent who you are. Keep in mind that when you are networking you are asking people that you know to vouch for you¾to put their names and reputations on the line. Your existing resume should be one that represents you well and that your contacts won’t be embarrassed to hand over to decision makers.

Step Two:

Develop a 30-second pitch that summarizes who you are professionally. You will use your pitch when contacting your network base. An effective pitch has three parts: (1) start by mentioning your profession and years of experience, (2) then lead with accomplishments or skills you want the listener to know about, and (3) end your pitch with a question to encourage dialogue.

Here’s an example of an effective pitch: “With over 5 years of experience, I have achieved success in a broad range of management functions including HR, customer service, logistics, and safety management. Most notably, I reduced Workers’ Compensation cases by more than 25% by writing informative articles for a safety newsletter, conducting safety training, and maintaining detailed OSHA and WC logs to pinpoint sources of problems. I am currently seeking a position in Human Resources. Are you aware of any current openings?”

Step Three:

Compile a list of contacts. Jot down the names of everyone you know. For the moment, suspend judgment on whether you believe those individuals can be of any help. That comes later on in the process. For now, take the time to write down the names of your family, acquaintances, friends, business associates, colleagues, and anyone else you know. Continue jotting names until your list reaches 50 to 100. If you are having great difficulty composing the list, it may be because you are not suspending judgment and dismissing individuals due to your own misconceptions. In order for this exercise to be effective, write down the names of everyone you know without prejudice.

Step Four:

Once you have composed your list, categorize each contact into one of the following three categories: (1) those in a position to hire you directly; (2) those who don’t have the ability to hire you but can introduce you to professionals who can help advance your job search; and (3) those who will be able to act as your sounding board¾someone who has a shoulder you can lean on when the job search is getting frustrating and you need someone who will be able to motivate you to continue full speed ahead.

Step Five:

Call those on your list. Don’t email them as your first point of contact. Emails are easy for others to ignore and delete. Take the initiative and do things the old-fashioned way¾pick up the phone, have a one-to-one conversation, and deliver your pitch.

In conclusion

Networking is still the number one method of gaining a job. Most positions aren’t advertised in classifieds or the Internet. For this reason, you want to focus most of your energy on cultivating a strong network base.

- Linda Matias

Certified in all three areas of the job search—Certified Interview Coach ™ (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW)—Linda Matias is qualified to assist you in your career transition, whether it be a complete career makeover, interview preparation, or resume assistance. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, How to Say It: Job Interviews (Prentice Hall Press, August 2007). You can contact Linda Matias at linda@careerstrides.com or visit her website www.careerstrides.com for additional career advice and to view resume samples.

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