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The Importance of Networking in a Job Search
In today's job market, it is important to have a competitive edge in your job search. Those who learn how to play the job-hunting game and who are prepared for the competition are the ones who get the jobs. Networking is one way that can help you locate and land the job you want.
Networking and Personal Contacts
Networking is an information-gathering technique that utilizes family, friends, business associates, and community members as sources of information. Networking is an important component of any job search because most employers prefer to hire someone they know or a person who has been referred by someone they know. It is important that you expand your network of personal and professional contacts because this will put you in touch with less common sources of information especially for job positions that are not being advertised. With each person you get to know, you build your network and tap into someone else's.
Don't burn your bridges, because anyone with whom you network has equal potential to help or harm you!
Creating a List of Contacts
You can being making a list of names to start your network. The names of relatives, friends, neighbors, or anyone else who can give you information about possible job openings. As you meet new people you can add them to your list of contacts to continually expand your network. Your contacts are people with whom you can develop lasting, valuable relationships. Your contacts will be more willing to talk to you about how you can get established, the challenges on the job, how much salary you should expect, or any other questions you may have.
If you maintain positive relationships, you will be more likely to earn help and references from those who know you. Thank your contacts and be ready to extend yourself to others who may need help and advice from you. Contacts have long-term value and you may find yourself calling on the same people many times in your career.
- Get Organized - Keep a list of contact names and update your list often. When you meet a new person ask for a business card. If possible get their home phone number. Jot down information about this person on the back of the card.
- Build Your Network - Contact personal and professional friends. Ask them for other contacts in your field or contacts that they might have at a company in which your interested in.
- Expand Your Base - Go beyond the initial contacts you listed. Many of the people you contact may not know of openings but may recommend that you call or see someone else.
- Write Networking Letters - The purpose of writing networking letters is to help yo build long-term professional and personal contacts, to keep people informed about your career and to gather information for your file. These letters will help you build your network to generate job leads.
- Go to Informational Interviews - Informational interviews are just that, interviews that help you find out more about a career field, or about a certain company, from a professional in that field.
- Cold Calling - Calling someone you don't know without a referral is useful for gaining access to informational interviews.
- Alumni Contacts - Once you graduate, use the alumni office to match your interests with alumni who are working in related fields. Then call alumni and introduce yourself. Even alumni who have graduated years before you will be happy to talk with you about career planning.
- Other Sources - Community Service can provide the connection between school and the real world. You can demonstrate that you are an involved person, a problem solver, and a doer. The benefits are both personal and professional. You will gain contacts and high visibility while learning on-the-job skills. You can also feel good about giving something back to the community.
Relying on Your Network
Members of your network can assist you in other ways too. They can help you with difficult job problems, provide emotional support, or any other issue or problem you may be facing.