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Networking Fundamentals to Get a New Job
Most of us have heard that it is important to network to build enduring relationships. And there are millions of articles about networking online. But most of those articles never cover networking fundamentals, so someone who is new to networking, may not be aware of where to start and how to do it right. When you are networking to get a new job, your focus should be on the 3Rs – relationship building, research and reciprocity. And if you are not convinced why networking is important for job search, the harsh reality is that the only job security these days is a good and strong network.
The networking process involves three types of contacts – A, B, and C contacts. A contacts are the people you know, B contacts are the people who your contacts know, and they are also bridge contacts, who can connect you to C contacts who are the decision makers. On top of having access to the right contacts, you also need to create five networking tools to support your job search: Branding statement, 30 second commercial, business cards, networking brief, and social media.
Personal Branding Statement: Branding is a marketing concept and tool that you use to communicate the essence of who you are – what you are known for and what you would like to be known for. Your branding statement is what makes you unique and it is the sweet spot where your talent, experience and passion intersect.
30 second commercial: This starts with your branding. It incorporates your name, location, most recent position, two greatest strengths, next career steps, kind of advice you are looking for, information and referral you are seeking, and lastly how you can reciprocate. It sets the tone for a constructive dialog.
Business cards: After a strong introduction, people need to know how to contact you, and your business card is used with your A and B contacts. In addition to your name, address, phone numbers and the position you are interested in, include your Twitter and LinkedIn usernames.
Networking brief: It has some similarities to your resume, including a profile and relevant accomplishment sections for you to showcase what is unique about you, and what sets you apart from others – your personal brand. The last section of the networking brief is forward looking and should have your target positions, four to five of your greatest strengths, target industries, professional affiliations, target companies, target goals, as well as useful contacts for you.
Social media: It is a powerful tool to help you to differentiate yourself and expedite your brand to the marketplace. If you haven’t done so already, create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and make sure that you participate. Being consistent in posting on social media is more important than the frequency of your posts. That means if you know you can only manage posting once a week, stick to that instead of posting every day for a week, with silence for the next two weeks.
Now that you have your five networking tools to support your job search, make a list of your A contacts. Now it’s time to research and add people that you’d like to meet – these are your B and C contacts. Organize and prioritize the contacts in each of the three groups, that is, your A, B, and C contacts. The next step is to use social media to build your contact list.
Build and Leverage Relationships
- Start networking with the people you know – your A contacts.
- Tell the people you know well what your needs are. Let them know which people and organizations you are interested in because they may be able to open doors for you.
- Use the results of your research when you initiate contact with your B contacts and prepare specific questions that you’d like to ask. If you are confronted with gatekeepers when trying to make contact with B and C contacts, instead of getting annoyed, work at befriending them. Recognize their power, name drop if you have to, and ask them for their advice and help on how to approach your contact.
- When you make contact, initially request no more than 20 minutes of their time to have a conversation, and request a face-to-face meeting if possible.
- Ask open ended questions that begin with What and How, and remember to take notes. Reiterate that you do not expect them to find you a job, you are gathering information. The questions to ask build rapport, gather intelligence, gain referrals and so on. Should the contact mention that he knows someone who can use your talent, ask related questions.
- After you have made a new contact, connect with them on social media to expand your network and keep your contact list up-to-date.
- Engage in groups on social media to get your voice heard.
- Leverage LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook status updates.
- And once again, always find ways to give back .
By understanding networking fundamentals, you are able to network the right way, which allows you to build contacts and gain access to jobs that are not advertised. You are top-of-mind when someone retires, goes on maternity leave, takes a leave of absence or go on medical leave – you gain access to the hidden job market.
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