Are you networking like crazy but haven’t gotten a single job offer?
Maybe you need to rethink your idea of networking.
The object, surprisingly enough, is not to actually get a job. That is unlikely to happen, at least on first contact. Instead, the goal of networking is to build relationships, acquire insider knowledge and get your name out there.
“Often job seekers think networking is asking for a job, but in fact, networking is asking for advice and information,” says this career expert.
AIR: Advice, Information and Referrals
Step one of effective networking is to identify who can help. Start by making a list of all the people you know. Branch out to the people they know – socially and professionally – and keep adding to this list over time.
Here’s the point: practically every name on your list is a potential career resource. Even if they are not a prospective employer themselves, they may well have some knowledge or counsel that will aid your job search.
Think AIR: Advice, Information and Referrals.
Here are some suggested approaches that Kathleen Brady suggests:
- To a geographic contact: “You have lived in this city for so long and know almost everyone.”
- To a socially active friend: “You have so many friends, you probably hear about things before anyone.”
- To someone who works in your field: “You’ve been working in the same type of job I am looking for, I am sure you have some idea how my skills might be viewed.”
- To a professor: “You know better than anyone what kinds of jobs are open in this field.”
- To anyone you admire: “You always seem to have good ideas.”
- To someone you have helped: “We have helped each other in the past, so I am hoping you can help me now.”
Note that you never come out and ask any of these contacts for a job. If they have one to offer, that’s great. But the point is to come away with information, referrals, feedback, moral support and help in creating a winning job-search strategy.
If, on the other hand, you open by asking if they know of any good jobs, their answer is likely to be no.
From Brady: “By asking questions like ‘What do you do and what alternatives are out there?’ or ‘Where do you see someone with my skills fitting in?’ or ‘Do you know anyone who works at X?’ you will uncover information which will eventually generate job leads and preserve your relationships.”
Networking is Hard Work
Networking is not easy. It takes courage to put yourself out there and ask for help, says Dennis Kennedy, a tech lawyer and former hiring partner.
Networks, however, are something that you build one block at a time, starting with people you know and growing from there. You are always looking for commonality: same hometown, same college, same law school, etc…. [T]ools like LinkedIn are invaluable in helping you map out a social network. It’s also far easier on your ego not to get an answer from an invitation on LinkedIn than it is when you call someone directly. Networking skills can also be learned.
Remember: most people want to help. All you have to do is ask – not for a job, perhaps, but for advice, information and referrals.
And don’t forget to follow-up with a thank-you note.
- Kathleen Brady, Knoji: Consumer Knowledge https://knoji.com/network-to-find-a-job/
- Law Practice Today http://www.americanbar.org/publications/law_practice_today_home/law_practice_today_archive/march11/career_advice_for_law_students_and_new_lawyers.html
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.