In the land of job searching, networking is still king. Many modern technological resources have been developed and brought online in recent years to help job searchers, and these sites, services and apps can prove beneficial in broadening and improving your search efforts. However, none of them can replace networking for finding—and securing—your next position. So here are seven ways you can maximize your networking efforts in the months ahead:
1. Be visible. Get out there. Show yourself off. Join trade organizations that cater to your job sector, such as GARP for risk management or NYSSA for security analysts. Don't just join them. Participate in them. Get around. Get out from behind the computer and invest the time to master the skills of face-to-face interaction. There is much you can learn from the 15-or-so people you may meet at these business events, or in a one-on-one over a cup of coffee or a Red Bull.
2. Quantity and frequency. Each day, contact two people—someone you haven’t contacted in a long while such as a former colleague, and someone you’ve never met, but who might work in your field or the field you would like to move into. Make it a routine; add more when you can. Reconnect after an appropriate period of time. It takes more than one meeting to form a relationship.
3. Variety. Contact people in different ways—e-mail, phone, over coffee, at their office, after work for a drink (don't be late, and make sure you pick up the tab). A note through the mail still carries a charm and impact that can't be underestimated. And cast your net wide. Move outside your normal circle or specialty. If you've surrounded yourself with quants, branch out and meet some analysts or investment banking relationship managers. Meeting people at all levels and from all disciplines could lead to other opportunities and good networking sources. Don't simply seek a "doorway." Sometimes a winding path is ultimately more effective.
4. Give. This tip may be more important than any other. It can’t be all about you. The fundamental goal of networking is people helping people. Start your effort by asking how you might help them. (Listening is giving; talking is taking.) Be a resource for other people. Provide value. Networking is a two-way street. Helping others is not only a nice thing to do, it helps to cement you in the minds of others and to become someone worth recommending. The old saying is true: What you give equals what you get in return. But give first.
5. Follow up. On top of developing a relationship, you gain respect if people understand they are more than a hit-and-run to you. Thank-you notes are always good—yes, even to people you already know—but any simple acknowledgement of the conversation or meeting will help make you memorable. Keep records of each contact, conversation, recommendation and rendezvous you have. Mark the dates you met or talked. Staying on top of such broad outreach can be a challenge, so make it easy on yourself.
6. Measurement. Like any campaign, you have to step back and analyze the effectiveness of your efforts. Evaluate the groups you join and the effort you are making to see what brings results, not just activity. The 80/20 rule applies here; 80 percent of your payoff will come from 20 percent of your contacts. Focus on the 20 percent. But keep adding new contacts.
7. Reload. Reassess your goals and expand your search horizons if you need to. Figure out how your skills as a financial analyst or operations project manager can be leveraged for other positions within the financial sector. Informational interviews can open your eyes to jobs and companies and industries you may have been previously unaware of. Reevaluate your goals. Ask yourself if your goals have changed, are less realistic now than before or if there is a complementary set of goals to pursue.