Successful networking can lead to job

 

Are you looking for a job? Have you heard that most jobs aren't found in the want ads? Do you know that networking is the best way to introduce yourself to prospective employers and to find out what's available?
"That's just great," you may sneer. "The only problem is that every time I even think of calling a total stranger my heart races and my stomach lips!" Here are some common questions and answers that will help you network like a pro.

Where do I begin?

The best place to start is with people you know. Call friends, former colleagues and relatives (preferably people who are familiar with your work or related volunteer activities) and ask them who they know in your field. Be sure to ask them if you can use their name as a referral.

Who are the best people to contact?

Anyone who can offer you advice on your resume, answer questions you have about how to present yourself in an interview, describe jobs within their field, or give you any information that is relevant to your job search. These contacts needn't be limited to people in your field who are in a position to hire you. Sometimes the most valuable contact is simply someone who knows a lot of people. One of the primary purposes of most professional organizations is to provide an informal ready reference of available openings and contacts, so take advantage of them.

How do I make contact?

Your friend or relative may be willing to call the contact person for you and pave the way before you call. Other options are to write a letter first to introduce yourself. A letter should mention the referral person and the reason for your letter in the first paragraph. Don't tell them you are interested in a job with their company because their response is going to be, "We don't have an opening, so I don't want to talk to this person."

If you don't have a referral, mention why you're interested in talking to them. You may have seen a recent article about them or their company or perhaps they are someone who impresses you. A cold contact is just that: cold. Think about what would motivate you to help someone you don't know. Appeal to their sense of pride and generosity. 

In the second paragraph give them some reason for wanting to spend some time with you. In other words, list some accomplishments and talents that will tell them you are a quality person who is going somewhere. End the letter by telling the contact that you will be calling soon to see if there is some time you can meet.

Another approach is to call the contact person and sell yourself on the phone. Prepare a "script", much like the letter but be ready with several approaches. For example, be prepared to ask for a meeting first but if they are too busy ask them if they would be willing to critique your resume by mail or answer a few questions right on the spot.

What do you ask them?

If you're smart, you'll ask them a combination of questions that will

a.) get them talking about themselves first ("I'm interested in knowing how you got to where you are today.")

b.) ask them your burning questions about your candidacy ("What is the best way to handle the fact that I was laid off?")

c.) ask them questions that are really "hooks" in disguise. In other words, select some of your choice qualifications or accomplishments and mention them in such a way that hooks their interest in you as a potential employee. (To a sales manager: "My boss always asks me to train all the new people in my sales techniques. Do you think that is worth mentioning on my resume?")

d.) ask them what they look for when hiring someone.

e.) ask them if they would be willing to refer you to anyone else they know.

Don't business people feel imposed upon?

Some people will simply be too busy to spend time with you but you will be amazed how many will take the time-if you've done a good job of impressing them as someone they should meet. Business people are always on the lookout for new talent. They also are keeping their own networks alive by being responsive to the person who referred you. Most of them have been helped by someone with whom they've networked in the past, so this is their way of "paying back." Besides, when you get the job you want, they will count on you to give them information and help when they need it. 

A great way to help you overcome the idea of imposing on someone is to find a way to repay them for their consideration. For example, if you read an article you know one of your contacts would be interested in, send it. A typical gesture is to pick up the check if they meet you for breakfast or lunch. Some people even send small gifts to contacts that have been particularly helpful. Another way you can show they made a difference is to write a thank you letter that describes how you followed their advice. In fact, if someone has taken the time to meet with you, keep them up to date. They want to know how you're doing. After all, they can't feel much satisfaction if they never hear from you again. Keeping your network informed will also keep your name and qualifications fresh in their minds when an opening occurs.

 

Source: Chicago Job Resource

 

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