Productive networking is all about your connectivity to relevant people, ideally within your profession, and then having productive conversations that generate leads, referrals and introductions. Like most professionals you have probably been too busy doing your job to build effective networks, so your existing networks are easily exhausted.
Here are seven networks you can use to accelerate your job search, stabilize your long-term career management strategies, and enhance your quality of life.
1. Colleagues. Make a real effort to build networks at your current, prior and next jobs. Reach out to people you’ve worked with, as a colleague and as a friend. You can use any approach you like, but might consider the truth,
“We’ve worked together in the past and with both of us furiously pursuing our careers, we haven’t stayed in touch as we might. Lately I have realized that jobs come and go but that the people in our lives shouldn’t. I’d like to establish contact again so that we can help each other and those we care about.”
You will of course personalize this call, letter or email to the history and circumstances of your relationship.
2. Social networking. There are now many sites expressly created for professional networking. Headhunters and employers use them as recruitment channels.
These sites also have special interest groups for people with common professional interests and jobs get posted to these groups. Networking sites often have job banks or links to job sites and also offer local opportunities for in-person networking. Here is a comprehensive resource of social networking sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_sites
3. College alumni associations. Alumni associations can play a pivotal role in your professional life. Alumni association membership means access to the membership database and with it a wide network of professionals with whom you share a common bond.
4. Your references. If these are people you think will speak well of you when an offer comes along, why not confirm it now and leverage that goodwill throughout your job hunt? When someone agrees to act as a reference, give an update about what you have been doing and explain your job search goals, but get too specific or too grandiose and you narrow their opportunities to help. See Knock em Dead 2011: The Ultimate Job Search Guide for how to leverage these relationships.
5. Professional Associations. The best step you can take for long-term career success is to become connected to your profession by joining one or more professional associations: one relevant to your profession, one relevant to your management status, and one if you belong to an identifiable minority. For example, to find groups for women in finance you might Google using the keywords “women in finance” and then “society” or ‘association.”
There are many benefits to professional association membership including, job postings you might not see elsewhere and a common bond with thousands of accessible professionals in the association database. Here is a resource for professional associations: http://www.weddles.com/associations/index.cfm
6. Local job search networking groups. Local networking groups can be helpful support tools but although well intentioned can also be poorly organized. When you attend meetings you need to take the initiative to introduce yourself, ask questions and establish relationships. You can find a comprehensive listing of local groups at http://www.rileyguide.com/support.html
7. People Like You. People like you should include reaching out to others with similar interests, whether it is music, kayaking, ballroom dancing or baseball cards. You pursue these groups for the joy they can give you interacting with others who share similar passions, we all need balance and laughter in our lives; but also because people know people who know people.
Case in point: last night, because I love dancing and rock music, I was taking a $5 Carolina Shag dance class in Hilton Head. I had a blast and all the new people I met enriched my life; but perhaps more importantly for a job search, almost half of those people were senior executives from different professions.
Make the time to develop networks that accelerate your job search, because they will also stabilize your long-term career management strategies and enhance your quality of life; the rewards will always repay your efforts.
Join Martin every week to learn more about writing a killer resume, getting more job interviews and turning job interviews into job offers at his free weekly webcast, Mondays at noon central. Details: http://my.knockemdead.com