Somehow, nearly everyone’s afraid of the word “network” these days. Even extroverts morph into introverts when presented with the suggestion of networking as a job referral strategy. Yikes! What’s a job seeker to do?
1. First of all, it’s important for you to understand the benefits of a referral in your job search. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
2. Secondly, understand yourself and your personality. Do you cringe at the thought of networking? Do you feel anxious, afraid, or merely uncomfortable with the thought of developing a job referral network? Do you engage in negative self-talk? (“she won’t remember me”, “he would never call me back”, I am terrible at small talk”, “I’d be embarrassed if he said no”) Realistically gauge your self-image. Are you worthy of some great contacts? Of course you are!
3 Assess your motivation level. Driven job seekers will stop at nothing. Where do you stand? What are you willing to do? What do you have to lose? One small step starts the ball rolling.
4. Figure out a process that fits who you are, and what you are willing to accomplish. One method that seems to work well with all personality types is developing warm contacts. You probably understand what “cold” contacts are- people you don’t know. Warm contacts describe people you already know. These warm contacts account for more than 70% of all job leads. (Leads developed from direct contact with employers accounts of the other 30%).
Step 1: List contact groups of people you know. Examples include friends, relatives, neighbors, former co-workers, former employers, alumni lists, LinkedIn contacts, doctors, teachers, people you play sports with, to name a few.
Step 2: Create your warm contact list. Find some quiet time to do this, and brainstorm with someone close to you for additional ideas, if necessary. Remember that you know far more people than you might realize!
Step 3: Create lists of specific contacts – names and ways to contact them.
Step 4: Practice the three critical questions to get good referrals:
Do you know of anyone who might have an opening for a person with my skills?
If no, then
Do you know of anyone who might know of someone who would?
If still no, then
Do you know someone who knows lots of people?
Many people need only their warm contact list to develop a network that ultimately results in a job offer. Remember that the networking idea is a pretty simple one: Use one person you know as a source to introduce you to one or (preferably two) people you don’t know. These referrals will give you a warm reception, (and become a warm contact) since you have a personal connection with them through your primary warm contact.
You’ll never know the power of networking unless you try. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.