The role of networking plays a huge part in a person’s job search. Only two percent of today’s jobs are landed by utilizing online applications, while as much as 80 percent of today’s jobs are landed through networking. Being an accomplished and sincere networker can cut through the piles of job listings, decreasing your time to find that perfect opportunity by tenfold, not to mention the fact that the job you want may not be advertised at all.
Networking works simply because people do business primarily with people they know and like. It affords an opportunity to become acquainted in a no-pressure environment. In any social situation, chances are somebody in that room is within two degrees of knowing your next boss.
Over the last decade, the face-to-face fundamentals have been significantly enhanced with social media and by leveraging a personal marketing plan. That magic combination of personal interaction, implementing your personal marketing strategy and social media channels has made networking a science of establishing and maintaining a group of social and professional ambassadors.
To that end, here are some of those networking fundamentals to master to make the most effective use of the opportunities that come along in your job search:
Make a good impression during networking events
- Be authentic, considerate and sincere.
- Emit confidence.
- Be able to recite a 30-second introduction about yourself.
- Have a concise and effective personal business card to hand out.
- Improve your communication skills by role-playing with colleagues as practice beforehand.
Take advantage of a possible networking opportunity
- Be sure that your target(s) are the ones that will actually be able to help you.
- Have specific employer names and career goals established.
- Focus on building relationships.
- Always ask what you can do for others; networking is a give-and-take.
- Ask for advice, not a job.
Follow up after an event
- Prioritize your contacts in order of who can help you and who you can help.
- Tap into your strongest connections first.
- Map out what your specific communication will be with each contact on your priority list (phone call, email, social media, meeting, etc.).
- Schedule time with your most important contacts on an ongoing, regular basis.
- Make connecting a priority/habit and continually evaluate what avenues are working.
Rick Sears is an award-winning, globally recognized executive recruiter and career coach who leads Sterling Partners, one of the largest independent search firms in the nation. He is also CEO and president of Career Masters International, an organization dedicated to providing professional career readiness services to corporations and colleges. Sears is an active volunteer instructor at Charlotte Works, where his popular networking classes frequently “sell out.” He is a keynote speaker/educator, author, motivational speaker and recipient of more than a dozen national awards. Recently, Sears was featured on CBS Radio and named “the nation’s leading career-readiness speaker.”