Traditional networking, for jobseekers and everyone else might be described as an opportunity to identify people with whom a relationship would be mutually beneficial. The traditional process is simple: People meet, discuss their situations, investigate areas where a relationship might be helpful. Both parties may choose to suggest someone else as a potential benefit.
Today, with the available, easy-use technology, there are significant changes to networking. Before investing in the time, cost and travel of a face-to-face meeting, people are connecting online, via phone, through video cams, and Skype accounts. If their geographic locations allow it, they may eventually followup with a face-to-face meeting, however, relationships are no longer limited to geographic locations. Face-to-face meetings may not be possible or necessary. Most important:
- Traditional or virtual, networking is first, the opportunity to educate and grow relationships based on mutual benefit.
- Everyone who wants to work will likely change jobs approximately every four to five years until they retire, so building and maintaining your network is a critical part of your Career Management.
Tips & Suggestions:
- LinkedIn is a critical business networking component. Assuming your LinkedIn profile is complete, Groups and Answers will allow you to connect with people in your geographic location and in your industry from all over the world. (For help with your profile, read the article: Creating Your Online Image.)
- Groups and Answers allows you to keep up in your industry, contribute value to members who can use your expertise, and grow your network. You can search people who work for companies you hope will hire you. Join their groups to find ways to connect and interact with them.
- Social networks can also provide networking possibilities and employment potential. Many people separate their personal/family lives and their business persona. They may use different social media to connect with different people groups in their lives. With the interconnectivity that today’s technology brings, everyone, especially jobseekers might do well to set careful limits on the kinds of interactions, written words, images, and places where their association, words, or opinions, might jeopardize their livelihood
- Networking hasn’t changed – it’s about mutual benefit.
- Face-to-face meetings may be preferable to some people and not to others. Adapt to your networker’s preference.
- Prepare for your networking events by:
- Practicing and polishing a clear statement about the value you bring.
- Clearly define the kind of job you are seeking.
- Learn about the person(s) you are meeting, their company, mission, values, and services.
- Offer volunteer services through your network to keep your skills sharp and build recent references. (Don’t volunteer in one place for too long. Limit your hours, about 8-12 hours per week for three months.)
- Participate in LinkedIn Groups and Answers. Connect with people, when appropriate, ask for a 30 minute phone call about specific topics.
- Seek to understand their situation and the challenges they are facing. Identify and discuss ways you add value.
- Track your networking connections. Follwup every three months with those who hold the highest potential in your job search.
- Ask, “How can I help you?”
- When you go back to work, maintain your network. Help and encourage jobseekers whenever the opportunity allows.
Need help? Consider a Forward Motion Differentiation Workshop, where you will learn how to carefully assess and respond to the Job Requirements section using the Forward Motion Application Process.