Often the word “networking” can be quite intimidating, especially when you’re talking about using it to find a new job. Let me assure you: It doesn’t have to be so scary! Conservative estimates have shown that nearly 60% of ALL jobs get filled via networking. Yes, a whopping 60%! Never underestimate the power of a recommendation or endorsement from a third party in your job search!
Given that it’s such an impressive number and the majority of open jobs are filled via networking, let’s look at the top 3 things you can do today using networking to find a new job, even if you’re completely shy!
- Make a list of everyone you know. Think about every client, vendor, associate and even friends and family and write it down. If you would like assistance in this process, here’s a good worksheet that you can use to help you extract people in your life that you may have forgotten about! (You may truly be surprised at the amount of people that you actually do know!). After making this list, pick up the phone and call them. Get back in touch and let them know about your current situation and you’re looking for work! If this is scary for you, use the indirect approach and simply ask for their advice. Find out if they know people in your field, get more names, contact information etc and continue to branch out from there.Remember to ALWAYS add value when networking, and never to look to just “take” something from someone but rather have something of value to give in return as well. It could be anything valuable- such as a nice website you’ve found, a good contact you may think that’s valuable or a specific product/service that you’ve found to work really well. Once you’ve made a few phone calls, you’ll realize that it gets much easier over time and after a few hours you’ll feel like an old pro, so just get started with it!NOTE: Email is also a perfectly acceptable (albeit not as successful) way to network with others. Just remember to keep your email brief and to the point and be sure to check for any spelling or grammar errors as you don’t want to make a poor impression and lower your chances to making the connection.
- Attend formal networking events and/or business socials. Business socials or association meetings are typically plentiful in number and always offer good networking opportunities. Many people attending actually have similar goals to you, and you’ll take comfort in that fact knowing you’re not “alone”.
If you’re shy, consider working at the registration table (volunteer to do so) or invite some friends/colleagues to go with you as you’ll feel better when you’re with others you’re comfortable with. Rather than carrying around your resume at these meetings, it’s suggested you carry a “resume card” with you which we’ve found to be highly successful and very appropriate to carry with you at ALL times, especially at networking meetings.A resume card is essentially a business card sized “resume” that has all of the pertinent information about you and your abilities on the card. If you’re artistic, you can print your own (just make sure you do it on nice card stock with a high resolution printer) or get them done through this resume card service. For the price of a Starbucks latte, you cannot find a cheaper and more professional solution to get 100 resume cards done and we highly recommend them in your arsenal of finding a new job. In fact, we’ve heard from so many candidate successes regarding the resume card service that we’re now calling it a “mandatory” part of your job search, they are that powerful!
- Contact career services at your former school. You’d be surprised at how many people working at the school are willing to help you in your job search! Usually these organizations give you a nice opportunity to not only find open jobs but also networking opportunities with the very people working there! It’s recommended you get to know them well as they are constantly made aware of new openings in your city and field of expertise.
TIP: Many school’s career services department will allow ANYONE to use their job resources. Leverage several career services and the people that work inside of the department to finding more opportunities than you thought existed!
Some other general rules to follow when networking your way to your next job:
- Spend twice the amount of time listening than talking. Ask questions, listen attentively, and people will like you and be more apt to serve you and your wishes.• Instead of spending time asking for help, find ways to help and to add value on your own. Think about what makes you unique and offer that to the world!• Don’t “linger”. In other words, instead of talking to one person or one group all night, talk to many. Hand them your resume card and move on. This puts you in a power position and ensures that you don’t “over stay your welcome” with any individual or group and also gives you the posture of someone who is in demand and connected.• Be passionate about what you do, have a friendly attitude and a whole new world will open up to you!
- Remember to follow up! Even a short email to individually thank the person you met is fine and will work wonders.
- And most importantly- be positive! No one wants to dwell on the negatives of your situation so don’t make that a primary focus. Instead, look at the bright side and know that armed with this attitude you’ll open more doors and find more opportunities!
If you’re truly serious about finding a job in this market, you’re going to need to be willing to do more than the average job seeker. Networking coupled with resume cards are a perfect example of doing more than the average job seeker, and you will be richly rewarded with more opportunities for doing so.