Networking is the single best, most effective, most efficient job search technique for executives seeking to identify and get a new job offer. In fact, studies have repeatedly confirmed, even in the Internet era, that networking is the way over 80% of senior level candidates find new positions. Personal connections work. There is no doubt that networking is the sine qua non of job search success. If you want to focus your energies and effort into job searching with the highest returns- that is better results in less time- networking is the top choice among all job search methods combined- online, recruiters, print, direct mail, email blasts, association message boards, etc.
Face it. We are human. It’s hard to resist the temptation of a big pay off. We enjoy a calculated risk. We like going for good odds. Thus, when it comes to our livelihood, financial security and future careers, networking purposefully to find a new challenge should logically be the favored method. But, networking because it requires more is often overlooked until other methods fail to find a job. It takes more than just a few clicks (which feels productive doing hundreds per hour) or simply relying on a headhunter to deliver appointments. To truly expedite a campaign, use all available approaches and put more emphasis on purposeful networking because it delivers the best results especially in today’s competitive environment.
Successful candidates separate themselves from the legions of other qualified applicants. The best way to be remarkable is to let your personality distinguish you. How better to display your charm than to meet and speak with a prospective employer in person? Nothing beats a personal relationship, good interpersonal chemistry! No marketing document conveys your individual winning personality like a personal connection and nothing closes a sale better than good chemistry between the two parties involved in the deal making. If you can’t get to the decision maker yourself, having a representative speak on your behalf brings you closer to getting selected. Everything you do in your search should be directed to getting yourself interacting one-on-one with the prospective employer’s key decision makers. Nothing works to seal a deal better than a solid relationship, one of trust and mutual respect. Do whatever it takes to help your prospective employer feel comfortable with you both as an individual and as a talent resource.
Job search is no different than anything else worth doing, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. In fact, not only will you find a new job that is a better match faster through networking connections, you also are simultaneously establishing a long-term career investment. In the future, the network you build for this search will provide the foundation to support your career during your next transition and additionally, produce unsolicited referrals to new opportunities down the line.
How to start a networking-driven job search? First identify where and with whom to connect (target employers and specific contact person- a hiring manager or other decision maker who will relate to you) and then define how best to command attention (you can solve their problems and meet their challenges without a learning curve) and the desirable response (invitation to meet in person.) Purposefully networking that focuses on a few highly selected contacts with big potential provides a greater probability than any other approach for uncovering new, less competitive career opportunities matching a candidate’s requirements, the so-called hidden job market.
The upfront preparation to create new networking relationships with specific people at specific companies demands a lot including thorough investigation, personal pluck to introduce yourself, good old fashioned sweat equity and patience and persistence. However, networking has a guaranteed pay back: generating job leads to unadvertised openings, the chance to create a new position tailored to your background as well as the opportunity to establish an expanded network of contacts in your field.
For those savvy executives who are willing to devote themselves to purposefully networking, there is a guaranteed positive job search outcome. It’s simply a matter of timing. Appropriate and valuable connections will be made that pave a successful path filled with insider tips, job leads and other helpful information.
Put networking purposefully, the Sine Qua Non of job search success,to work for you.
- Establish a specific reason or focus for each networking interaction. Know what this contact can do to further the campaign progress and politely ask for help. Sure doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs and barbers might all know someone, but the membership chair of the local chamber of commerce knows even more people who might be helpful.
- Strategically focus networking activity to concentrate on individuals positioned to bring more connections or get you closer to the individual(s) you want to know your qualifications. If someone works at your target employer or is the roommate of someone who is employed there, this is one good way to get inside an organization.
- Target networking to get connected to individuals that are well connected because this will exponentially increase your networking depth and reach. Certain people have a knack for attracting others (They are hubs.) and have a robust network in place. There are also individuals who are key contacts to engage because their status makes them extremely well connected and able to open doors for you.
- Be persistent. If you believe a contact is beneficial and are having difficulty reaching them, don’t easily give up trying to get their attention. Identify someone who might be able to arrange an introduction rather than cold calling. Keep a tickler file and periodically attempt to make contact. Do something outrageous, but professional, to capture their attention and start a dialogue. (Find something to compliment- always a good way to break the ice and start a friendly exchange.)
- List everyone you have ever known that you admire and respect. Seek them out and let them know what your career objectives are at this time. If they ever liked you, chances are they will be happy to help, offer advice and provide support.
- Do something that provides the opportunity for you to promote yourself in a way that doesn’t shout, “I need a job! Hire me!” For example, publish an article that you can circulate. This will keep you in front of others without having to send a message saying outright that you are job hunting and need their help. When they contact you to congratulate you is the time to make them aware that you are open to new opportunities.
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