If you’re not networking, you’re not fully job-hunting

There are many articles with advice about how to find a job, but these days, in the U.S. there’s one critical skill you must have: the ability to network. Your resume can get lost in the pile, especially in these days of online job applications and automated evaluation (a program might be the first thing to decide if your resume should be seen by a human being). Networking is building relationships with people so they know who you are and are likely to recommend your candidacy, your work or your company to others. One relationship leads to introductions to other people and increasing your “network” means you have more chances to find the job you’re looking for.

Online networking includes using LinkedIn, a website that allows businesses and individuals to connect,  learn about each other and stay up-to-date on opportunities. This article has some excellent tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn, although that website is only part of how you can network online.

Mainly it takes good, old meeting people in person. Because job postings are often flooded with applicants, it’s best to make friends with people in the industry you’re interested in because

  • They often know about job openings before they get posted for the public to see.
  • Knowing someone who works at a company where you want to work can help you meet the person who makes the hiring decisions
  • People are influenced by their acquaintances and colleagues. If someone says you’re good because they personally know you, that can make all the difference.
  • People in your network won’t just connect you with other people, but with new opportunities, resources you hadn’t heard of and organizations that can benefit you.

Makes sure you know how to build a network and how to maintain one (another good article on that).

Of course, it’s important to never leave home without your business cards even when your run to the store because you never know when you’ll run into someone. But one tip I don’t see very often, is to make sure you have a card even if you don’t have a job. At the very least, it should have your name and contact information, but it can also have a link to a personal page or website, or the name of your industry, etc. You want the people you meet to remember you and have a way to reach you later and having a card is the best way to do that. Even if you take their card and promise to send them an email, they might want to reach you or pass on your information before you make it to your computer. It’s worth it to have some cards printed and on you at all times (get them inexpensively at places like VistaPrint and Staples or pay more for more options at places like Zazzle and Moo).

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Networking card I used when I was between jobs.

Some of us naturally enjoy meeting new people and staying in touch. Others of us don’t feel like this is a strength, but fortunately, everyone can learn how to do it. If you’re looking for a job, please incorporate networking into your strategy. There are countless articles and online resources to help you do it or contact me at regina@welcomedialogue.com for a personal consultation.