Why Networking is Important

Why is networking Important? The majority of positions landed are not found online or advertised, but through networking. It is an opportunity to build relationships, obtain information and job leads, and to help others.  It is repeatedly mentioned by Career Coaches and Social Media Experts that networking is involved in over 75% of job hires and this percentage is growing in the new job market.

Networking...what is it?  It is not about asking everyone you know for a job, but it is instead:
  • To ask for information that will help you in your search.
  • It is about building relationships and making a connection should a potential opportunity arise in the future.
  • It is about sharing ideas and having meaningful conversations as a way to become more comfortable with one another.
  • Increase your visibility
  • Generate a favorable impression (“no one hires a desperate person”)
  • About establishing rapport and trust to make the best impression and
  • It’s about giving and not receiving (see below)
For those who declare that they despise "networking," you are not alone and you may wish to call it something else, such as: 
  • Sharing.
  • Connecting.
  • Talking.
  • Meeting.
  • Communicating.
  • Exchanging information. 
  • Engagement.
  • Building relationships.
  • Seeking advice.
  • Building trust.
  • Sharing experiences.
  • Identifying pain points at a particular company.
  • A chance to contribute information and insights to the other person.
  • Understanding a company, culture, person better.
  • Making connections.
  • Learning about other people.
Call it whatever you would like, just attempt to do it.  For many job seekers, the best way to begin is to start slowly. 

Receiving through Giving.
Always seek the opportunity to help the other person. Be prepared to offer something of value to those who are taking time to help you - it could be an article, an inquiry whether they are attending an upcoming conference, an offer to share a cup of coffee. Helping others is often the path to receiving help. Thank everyone who helps you and touching base from time to time will ensure you stay on the top of their mind.
The Art of Networking in summary it is relationship building and that there is a give-and-take in all relationships. Start with a smile. Share a brief "elevator speech" about who you are. Be genuinely interested and authentic. Ask questions and listen. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help, an informal meeting, and always seek to bring value to the other person. Ask for suggestions on how to expand your network. Thank them for their time and insights. Follow up with commitment.  You will never know when one of your contacts has referred or will refer you to a hiring manager.
Remember in the new job market that networking is something that you must do throughout your career, not just during a job search. You can start out be networking via social media but In-person meetings are required at some point during your transition and build stronger ties with your contacts.
Where Can I Network?  Everywhere! The PSG meetings are a great place to network! Consider any of the following:
  • professional associations,
  • local Chamber of Commerce,
  • religious institutions,
  • alumni associations (past and current),
  • LinkedIn,
  • Facebook,
  • Other social media such as Google+ and Twitter 
  • volunteer projects,
  • industry conferences,
  • make a presentation highlighting your area of expertise.

You can find a list of tri-state area networking groups from the Landing Expert Networking Groups List.

Remember your network can include family, friends, neighbors, past and present co-workers, teachers,
Don't forget "informal" networking opportunities such as speaking to those around in line at the grocery store, or
Reach out to those contacts through personalized emails and phone calls. Ask if you can mention them in an email or call to your target. If your connection is willing to put in a word for you with the target, all the better.

How do I network with someone with whom I was referred and don't know well?
  • Reach out by email before calling someone-people do not like to be caught off guard
  • Share the name of the person who referred you, and explain why you are contacting them
  • Briefly share why they were recommended (e.g., their understanding of a Company ABC, explore an industry trend you are seeing,...)
  • Inquire if it is a good time to talk. If not, ask when a good time would be and commit to contacting them at that time.
  • Do not ask for more than 15 minutes of someone’s time.  It is essential that you respect their precious time and put boundaries on the call
  • Ask for suggestions and names of people who can assist in your job search.
  • Ask if you may keep in touch to let them know how your search is going.

How to obtain an Informational Interview without a personal reference? (Best Practices) :
  • Obtain your potential list of contacts from possibly the following sources:
    • LinkedIn searches
    • Alumni databases (“Alumni love to help fellow alumni”)
    • Professional Associations 
  • Reach out by email before calling someone-people do not like to be caught off guard
  • Clearly identify who you are and why you are contacting them early in the email
  • Explain that your goal is to gather information and possibly make a new contact
  • Do not attach your resume
  • Propose a few time over the next week or two that you are available for a call; otherwise you could ask for their availability
  • Do not ask for more than 15 minutes of their time and respect this commitment during your conversation
  • Be patient
  • If you haven’t heard back after a week or two, do not be afraid to send a follow up friendly email, perhaps proposing some new time slots to chat and reiterating you interest in their field/job function.  If you still haven’t heard back about in a month, then sending a 3rd  “friendly” email is suggested.
  • Other considerations:
    • Research the industry, company, contact and the job function that you are to discuss
    • Do not ask for too much during the initial contact, such as a job, a referral to others in the person’s network, or company information that is privileged. 
    • Follow up in a timely manner with everything you have committed to do.