What is Networking Good For When Job Hunting?
What is networking good for in terms of career progression? A diligent approach to networking can provide you with many advantages over other job-seekers, including:
- Getting in early. A job opening you find out about from someone in your network may not have been made public yet. If you respond to such information with a speculative letter, then you are already one step ahead of potential competition.
- Assessing the market. A network can keep you informed about the job market informally even when you are not seeking work. This may help you to better establish your market worth or to discover new growth sectors.
- Switching career. Although you may have had two or three jobs in the same sector, you may be better cut out for work in another industry. Your employer will seldom point this out to you, but a professional contact in a connected sector may well do.
- Being known. When you apply for jobs from scratch, you need to create a first impression and it may be hard to get a foot in the door as a result. Networking for jobs often means that something is already known about you thus helping to overcome that initial barrier.
- Developing potential. Being stuck in a rut is common enough in many career paths. Keep your options open by having a network of people you interact with in your job and learn from how and when their careers make progress.
- Lessening time between jobs. If you are no longer employed, then having networked a bit beforehand can mean that you spend less time searching for a new position. It could mean you are able to line something up immediately and don't spend any time out of work at all.
Simply put, networking is leveraging the people you know professionally and personally to improve your chances of finding work. If you don't get put in the frame for a job directly as a result of asking around, then at least you are likely to discover opportunities which you might research further. Start networking today so that you have a group of people you can turn to in future.
How to develop networking skills
Many people find networking comes naturally to them, but others think that it is much tougher. It comes down to personality. Nevertheless you can always develop new strategies for developing a better network.
- Think long term. Don't use a professional acquaintance for short-term gains only. You will soon be found out. A good network develops through mutual trust over years.
- Include friends. Not all professional networks are built up through people we know through work. Think about friends you have who work in similar industries or family members who have their own professional networks which you could call upon.
- Communication counts. Face-to-face meetings and introductions are great for networking effectively. However, phone contact and even email and other online correspondence can lead to professional relationships which will augment your network.
- Stay in touch. When you move on from an organisation it is a good idea to stay in contact with your old workmates even if it is infrequently. This way you can exchange information about employers and the industry which can stand you in great stead when job hunting.
- Socialise. If you never go out with team mates or attend professional conventions, then you are not going to make a good networker. Join in and you will find you have much more success.
- Don’t exploit. If you only contact your network when you are looking for work, then it is likely people will get fed up with you. Try to remember personal details about people in your network to ensure they always feel valued.
If you are out of work, then you can have some business cards printed of your own which will help you to maintain contact with your network, especially if people only have your old work number. When talking to a member of your network, try to avoid asking for work straight away but work around to it as casually as you can.