As you will know if you have read much at all on the best method of finding a new job, networking is invaluable. A large majority of new roles come not from recruiters, not from online applications, but from candidates’ networks.
To the uninitiated, networking may seem little more than chatting with friends and mentioning the notion that you’d be interested in a new role. However, there is more to it than that. Networking is a finely tuned process. Step over the line, do the wrong thing and you will get nowhere at all.
When networking, you are strongly advised NOT to:
1. Ask for a job
Don’t jump straight in and ask for a job or ask the person you’re networking with if they know of anything going at their place. This will put them on the spot and make you look needy. Instead, share that you are job seeking and that as part of your research, you’d value their thoughts, opinions and guidance about firms, sectors, geographies, industry trends, impacts, etc. This will allow them to feel comfortable and to understand what they might do to assist. They will also understand that you are available and will, either at the time or subsequent to your conversation, feel more inclined to mention any roles they are aware of.
2. Be vague
You should never network without being able to clearly articulate what you are great at and what you will bring to your next employer. If you can’t do this, how will they know how to help?
Equally, if you are able to create a powerful verbal message about yourself, it will be something that people can repeat when they’re talking to other people about you. This is much stronger than someone simply saying that “you are good person who lost their job.”
3. Fail to follow up
Never network and do nothing about it afterwards. If you’re doing it properly, you’ll need a database approach to your networking activities – your network will grow and therefore needs planning. Needless to say, this planning shouldn’t be overt – you will simply be adding structure behind the scenes.
Julian Rye is Head of Consulting Services at Lee Hecht Harrison | DBM, a leading talent development provider.