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Networking: How to Make Connections

Networking in simple terms means making connections. In the context of this guide on searching for a new job, it specifically means making connections. With people who may be able to help you in your job search. You don't necessarily need connections to get a job and it certainly possible to get a job without connections. However, simply stated connections can help you get your dream job. You will of course have to demonstrate you can actually do the job at some stage in the hiring process however connections can help you get in the pool of candidates that are considered for the position.

Networking can also help also can also help by letting you know when positions come up in the companies they work in and may even be able to recommend you for the position.

The more people you get to know and who know you are looking for a position the better. Remember that each person you have connections with knows numerous other people who may be able to help.

Networking – Challenges:
Networking can be very challenging for many people. Many people dread the thought of asking anyone for a favor, which is effectively what you are doing. You need to understand that most people will be very nice when approached and there are always a few who may not be so nice. The worst thing that can happen is that someone may not be willing to help and how bad is that, really? Don't let this stop you from moving ahead and continuing to network. The next phone call or the next time you extend your hand to greet someone who may be able to help you could be the one that can help.

Getting Started:
It is very simple to get started. Before beginning to write up a list of contacts and phone numbers ask yourself who really can help you in your job search. For each person you are considering contacting ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Can this person offer me a job now or in the future?
  2. Is there a chance that this person may know someone who could offer me a job?
  3. Might this person know of openings in a company?

Some people are in a better position than others to help you so think about this before adding your name to your list. Of course Quantity is as important as Quality in respect to networking.

Once you have compiled your list divide it in to three sections. The first group are the people you already know and are comfortable with such as family and friends. The second group are acquaintances and colleagues. These people you probably don't see all the time or ask for favors from. The third group are people you do not know in person but you need to meet as they may be able to help you. You may have seen their names in company directories or newspapers. You may be able to use somebody from your first or second group to help make the connection with these people.

Who Should you Contact First?
This can be a more difficult task however ask yourself the following question.

Who are the people who are well positioned with loads of connections that may be able to help to get you the job you want?

Beside each of these peoples names put the letter A, as in top priority. You can have a D, C and even D list organized in order of priority with folks on the D list being lowest priority to contact and the most powerful people on list A.

You should put together a database or all the names with contact information and other miscellaneous useful information such as:
  • Name
  • Title
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Cell number
  • Group 1st, 2nd or 3rd
  • Priority A, B or C
  • Any other information you feel is relevant.

What to Say to a Contact:
It is well known that many people find that introducing themselves to someone and asking them to help them is very stressful. To help ease the pressure you should think carefully about what you want to say and how you will say it. Write this down and customize loosely every time you plan to make a new connection so you have one less thing to worry about. Keep it as succinct as possible but make sure to include the basics as this maybe only a hone call and you don't want someone to hang up on you or fall asleep from boredom!

The basics must include:
  • Your name
  • Your specialty, profession or occupation
  • What you are looking for work wise
  • What you are currently doing
  • What you feel your point of difference from other candidates is

You want to make sure you capture the listeners ear first by way of greeting and introduction and providing information on your background and then tell the person what you are looking for. Don't beat around the bush with these people especially if this is someone in the third group in your list, i.e. the people you do not know at all.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to set up a meeting with a person on your list, take heed of the following advice.
  • Take care of your personal appearance. You don't want to get thrown out of someone's office because you look like a street person. First impressions are very important and this is a business meeting so dress appropriately.
  • When you get to the meeting location confirm with the receptionist the amount of time allotted to you.
  • Be courteous and polite to the secretary or receptionist. It is will known that top executives give weight to the opinions of their secretaries and receptionists.
  • Take some notes during the meeting but do not be obsessive. Your focus must be on the note taking but on the meeting.
  • Don't discuss your issues or problems at eh meeting. Keep the meeting upbeat and positive. You do not want someone taking pity on you.
  • Try to get more connection but be discrete and do this at the end of the meeting.
  • Send a Thank You note. You would be surprised by what this little gesture can do. If nothing else it reminds the person of you and may remind them to make that phone call regarding a position for you.

There are several other ways to network and meet new people who may be able to help you. Trade shows or volunteer work related to the industry you want to be employed in are good starters.

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