the right focus for successful job searchDo not restrict job search networking activities to people you already know and only those they know. Eventually your circle of contacts will be so constricted that leads will dry up. To stay in touch with a never-ending pipeline of new job leads, you must constantly expand your network to continuously access career opportunities as the develop.

The best way to put your hat in the ring is by switching your networking focus away from relying on your existing contact base to emphasizing choosing and making new contacts purposefully. This means initiating and pursuing relationships that have a good chance of putting you on the radar screen of hiring decision makers responsible for the roles you want at your short- listed target employers.

Getting Started Begin researching where the type of opportunities you want are likely to be, i.e. where your knowledge and skills are relevant, will be appreciated and are needed. Once you’ve identified the best target companies, dig deeper to identify inside contacts who are either hiring authorities or individuals who can introduce you to the appropriate decision maker, not HR and not an external recruiter. The best connections usually are current and former employees, representatives of the target company’s customers and vendors, and leaders at professional organizations, academic consultants, legal and accounting advisers, advertising and PR experts, authors across different medial, etc.

The Next Step Develop a very strong written and verbal introduction customized to attract each contact’s interest and encourage their curiosity to learn more about you. Make sure to follow-up persistently. If there is no response to your first attempt to start a dialogue or schedule a meeting, don’t give up. Be patient. A lack of reply may not mean a lack of interest forever.

Polite, Persistent, Pings While this methodological approach to job searching may seem overly difficult, very time consuming and exceedingly slow compared to combing job boards, answering postings and blasting your entire contacts folder, networking purposefully is guaranteed to generate a higher rate of quality responses along with benefits like creating long-term connections. Contrast these results with resumes sitting unacknowledged in a black hole, your initiatives dying as soon as you hit send and the prospect of going through the same process over and over and not making any progress towards an offer. Remember the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?”

Network Purposefully’s ROI Job leads, more referrals, and long-term professional relationships and getting recruited whether you are actively seeking a new position or content with where you are. Cold contacts are part of building a strategic network. Find the hiring decision maker for a specific role or discover the individuals whom hiring authorities trust for talent recommendations. It’s usually easier to connect through a mutual contact which is another reason to keep making more connections.

Don’t Give Up You’ll produce a lot more quality leads through your relationships than by submitting a resume to a job posting (which may already be filled or cancelled, if it ever was real.) If you continue to rely on the same contacts over time your network shrinks until it virtually disappears. To avoid losing connections, you must keep adding new relationships, networking purposefully to stay informed about career opportunities and build a solid foundation for future transitions. Your network acts like “career insurance” by sharing leads, supporting each other emotionally, fellow-shipping and mentoring each other.

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