Networking for job search uses existing contacts amongst friends, relatives, business colleagues and others, as a foundation for building a new and extended network of further contacts. It provides a proven route to potential employment opportunities.

What are the benefits of using networking for job search?

Research shows that only between about 15% and 30% of all jobs are ever advertised. So if you simply limit yourself to answering press adverts or to trawling the internet you confine yourself to the most competitive sector of the job market.

Networking is a powerful and effective route to potential employment opportunities. Somewhere out there someone has a problem and is looking for someone with your talents and experience to solve it for them. Your job is to find them and to help them find you. The key is to find out about a job before it goes to the market.

Networking reduces the pool of your potential competitors. Even in the public sector where all jobs have to be advertised you can get onto the inside track by getting advance knowledge.

With networking for job search you are in control- not waiting for someone to advertise. Your task is to find them, or help them find you.

First step – Organise your database

You all have a huge networking database of contacts made over the years but you may not realise it. You cannot have reached your age without meeting hundreds of people.

Get out old diaries, Christmas card lists, contacts via LinkedIn, Facebook and other networking sites

  • Start by listing all the people you know, plus all the people that they in turn know, who may be useful to you.
  • Include in your list all your friends, relatives, business colleagues, former bosses, former customers, former suppliers, trade associations, clubs and professional bodies etc.
  • Write them down, so you can use the list constructively.
  • You can sort them out under 3 key criteria a) are they a hiring manager b) do they have strong influence in their sector, 3) You know these people, how did they rate you? Rate each area 1, 2 or 3 where 1 is strong and 3 less strong. Put them onto say an excel spreadsheet with these scores in 3 columns on the left of their details. Then data sort by column a then b then c. All the scores with 1 will surface to the top of their sections. The best being those with 1, 1, 1 against their name.

Surely I can’t ask people I know for a job?

Networking is about talking to your contacts and seeking from them information and advice – and letting them know that you are interested in any job opportunities they get to know about BUT not asking them to give you a job personally! These are the very people who are in a position to give such advice, and possibly even more important to give you the names of more contacts.

Initially you may feel hesitant about approaching your contacts, but you will find most are genuinely pleased to help and are flattered to be asked. Phone to get the meeting, this avoids a great deal of “email tag” as you try to sort out a date

Careers Springboard holds frequent meetings and discussions on how to make the most of your contacts, and teaches the techniques to use when networking by phone.

Step two – Prepare for networking

  • You never know when you might be introduced to a useful contact, so prepare and rehearse a response to the question “tell me about yourself“. Have a version lasting about two/three minutes long for use at an interview.
    But have another version, only half a minute long for use on the telephone. Keep it by the telephone in case a contact rings you.

Step three – Make contact

  • When telephoning use polite persistence until you get through to the person you want. Get the PA or secretary’s name and thank them for their help. Remember that you are seeking help and advice regarding career planning. Never ask directly for a job. This immediately puts your contact on the defensive.
  • Confirm by email showing a list of agenda topics you want to discuss and the kind of people you would like to be referred to, indicate that your contacts are also available.
  • Attach a 1 page narrative style profile about yourself to help the person you are seeing catch up on your background and for new contacts to find out about you. DO NOT send a CV, this says that you are looking for a job with that person’s company and may hinder the meeting arrangements, take that pressure off and you have a better chance of getting together.

What happens if you don’t get invited to a networking meeting?

  • You may not get invited to a networking meeting, if so, then before the conversation ends try to obtain further contacts by asking “who else do you suggest I might contact?” Then, you will have another contact to follow up, and you can name-drop without hesitation – using the first contact as the introduction to the second – and so on.
  • Ring your original contact back to thank them for their help and keep them advised of your success.

Step four – updating your database

  • Keep a database, either on a computer or manually of your growing network. Record and track the date of all contacts made, together with the outcome ( eg briefly what was discussed and who was referred to you)
  • Link this to a call-back diary and always call back on any agreed dates.

Networking works, many former members of Careers Springboard have proved this