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How to Network Like a Pro

You can learn a lot about networking to find jobs by asking recruiters how they do it to fill jobs.

That's because recruiters, also known as headhunters, have to network every day to locate and place candidates in positions they're hired by employers to fill. And recruiters don't get paid until they succeed.

So you'd better believe that successful headhunters know a thing or two about networking.

Here are two things, to be exact, you can do to network like a pro and get hired faster ...

  1. Google And Call Past Employees

    Recruiting expert David Perry, author of "Guerrilla Marketing For Job Hunters," shares a unique way to research potential employers using Google.

    It's this: Find and call people who used to work where you want to work now.

    "The fastest way to learn the real workings of an organization is to Google past employees and call them up. This is exactly what I do. Before I take an assignment from a company to place an executive there, I want to know if I'm walking into a hornet's nest," says Perry.

    Here's how to do it ...

    Google the name of your target employer and the word "resume." The search results you get back will include resumes of people who used work there. (You may want to add the word "experience" to "resume" in your search; experiment using Google's Advanced Search options.)

    Once you find some resumes, pick up the phone and call. Say: "Hi my name is _________. I'm researching XYZ Corp. and I think you used to work there because I found your resume online. I'm thinking of applying for a job there. May I ask you a few quick questions to see if it's worth my time and effort? I know this is an unusual way to do a job search ..."

    Most people will be impressed by your initiative, flattered to be asked for their opinion and willing to help you out.

    "You want to learn about three main areas: the company and its culture; the department you would be working in; and the name of the manager you would be reporting to," says Perry.

    Finish your conversation with this all-important question: "If I decide to talk with them, may I say that I spoke with you?"

    "You ask this for two reasons," advises Perry. "First, if they left on good terms, you can drop that former employee's name when contacting the company to ask for a meeting. Second, that person may phone his old boss and tell him or her to keep an eye out for the smart person who just called -- that would be you."

    If you're at all hesitant about this technique, try it on a company you have no intention of applying to. Work out the bugs first, then network your way right into your ideal employer.

  2. Make Recommendations On LinkedIn

    Tom Stewart, VP of Executive Search at Genesis10 in Minneapolis, advises job seekers to use LinkedIn.com as a way to get found by recruiters and employers.

    "I tell people to think of LinkedIn as a sort of 'Who's Who' for the Internet savvy professional. It's a great way to expand your visibility -- and the more people who can find you, the better," says Stewart.

    Key to using LinkedIn effectively is to give and ask for endorsements, also known as recommendations.

    "Writing recommendations for those in your network benefits everyone. I have found candidates accidentally by clicking on the endorsements they wrote for other people on LinkedIn. I can count at least 6 passive candidates I placed in new jobs this way," says Stewart.

    Start with your network of first-level connections at LinkedIn. Pick one person you feel strongly about and endorse them. After you write a recommendation, the system prompts the recipient to endorse you, which leads to reciprocity.

    Think of your LinkedIn recommendations as free advertisements you can run on other people's profiles. If they are successful and highly visible in their industry, your recommendation -- with your name on it -- will be highly visible, too. Which increases the likelihood that a recruiter who sees your endorsement will click on it, read your profile, and contact you.

Now, go out and make your own luck!

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free glimpse, visit Guerrilla Job Search System DVD.