Networking to Find a Job

March 7, 2013 by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

How to broaden your own network or help someone else

Networking is the best way to find a job.  Tips for networking include things like making a list of everyone you know and having a good elevator speech with an ask. I’ve read that as many as 80% of jobs are secured through networking.  Every job I have ever had was through a contact.  In a small sampling of my women friends, most said all of their jobs were came through their network.  Not networking enough is one of the top reasons given for lack of success in job hunting.

Last week I accepted a full time job.  Although I have spent time writing and traveling and have worked a variety of part time jobs, I have spent four years without a full time job.  I’ve submitted hundreds of resumes, used a case of printer cartridges, and consumed gallons of coffee while networking.  By far the coffee was the best investment.

The thing that kept me going, and that finally got me the job, was networking with my women friends.  Of all the interviews I secured during the four years, about half were because of networking.  And most of my best networking was with women.

If you are unemployed, your very best resources are the people you know.  Take these steps to get started in using and growing your network.

  • Make a list of every person you know who might be able to help (even if they aren’t a close friend; most people like to help).
  • Call each one of them.
  • Ask them to introduce you to people you can network with.  It doesn’t matter if they aren’t in your field of work.
  • Ask them for suggestions of groups or committees you might join to meet others and get involved in new activities.
  • Follow up with all the new contacts.
  • Meet with as many as you can.
  • Add them as contacts on your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
  • Ask everyone you meet with to introduce you to three more people.
  • Write a personal thank you note to everyone who meets with you.
  • Keep a spreadsheet of your contacts so you remember where they came from; remembering gets harder as your network grows.
  • Repeat. 

Soon your network will go viral.  People will begin to let you know when they hear about jobs.  It’s amazing.  When you get your job, remember to let everyone in chain know.  They will appreciate knowing they were part of your success!

How I got my job

  • Friend 1 agreed to help me with job networking and introduced me to Friend 2.
  • Friend 2 and I meet frequently.  She has been steadfast in making suggestions and encouraging me (both she and Friend 1 are among my best supporters).
  • Friend 2 hired me for some part-time work and through her I met Friend 3 who was also working for her.
  • I followed up with Friend 3 by sending her my resume and ensuring she knew I was looking for full-time work.
  • Three years after meeting Friend 2, Friend 3 sent me a job announcement from a friend who was hiring.
  • A month and two interviews later, I got the job.

It wouldn’t have happened without networking and the kindness and support of Friends 1, 2 and 3.

Whether you are a person with great business contacts to share, can be an emotional supporter, or can spend time helping perfect an elevator speech, be a part of the network of a woman who is unemployed.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

8 Tips for helping the unemployed

  • Never assume they are OK.  At some point all unemployed people are gripped with paralyzing fear but are afraid they will fall into the abyss if they admit it to themselves or others.  I know it happened to me.
  • Forward any and all tips for job opportunities; let them decide whether they are qualified or not.  Be a sounding board if they want to discuss their qualifications.
  • Invest some of your time.  Introduce them to others who can help.  Forward their resume to your contacts with a personal note asking contacts to meet with them. Then, make sure you follow up to see if people were helpful and make suggestions for how to keep in touch.
  • Share meals or invite them to lunch or dinner.  Not having to prepare a meal, or simply enjoying an opportunity to go out with others can boost their spirits
  • Give them a gift card.  Friends did this for me and it was such a treat. I learned to graciously accept gifts even though I never in a million years thought I would be on the receiving end.
  • Invite them to business events.  I was so grateful to be included in opportunities to feel part of the working world (and to hand out and collect business cards).
  • Encourage them to use you as a sounding board for venting their anger and frustration.  It helps to get it out in a safe place; built-up anger wears down the person who is already depressed.
  • Keep your promises.  There is nothing more discouraging than someone who offers to help and does nothing.  It pulls the already depressed person further in the hole to have their calls go unanswered or their emails ignored.
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