If you’ve done any research on job search strategies, you’ve likely heard some version of “network, network, network” or “it’s all about who you know.” Have you shrugged it off as being corporate jargon? It’s easy to dismiss suggestions that you don’t understand or that you think aren’t relevant to your particular situation. This tip is one that you should implement into your job search strategy no matter your background or career trajectory. Here’s why:
- Networking is easy. It’s essentially staying in touch, and in good standing, with those that you have crossed paths with throughout your journey to get where you are. The engineer that you babysat for in your neighborhood, your high school teachers, college professors, program advisors, extra-curricular club leaders, that scientist you met at a charity dinner, the journalist who allowed you to conduct an informational interview - all of these are examples of people in your network.
- It can be all about who you know. While it isn’t always all about who you know, it most certainly can be. An introduction or recommendation from the right person may just be the extra bump your application needs to get the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.
- References can make, or break, your job search/advancement progress. There are some references that are just no good: those that are so generic it’s obvious that they don’t know the applicant and those that simply don’t have anything good to say. To ensure a good reference, make sure your network knows you well enough to personalize their recommendation to your strengths. And, of course, make sure they don’t have any bad experiences to share.
- Your network is a gold mine of knowledge. Even if your connections consist of a seemingly random assortment of professions, industries and management levels, you have years and years of experience and skill at your fingertips. Ask to hear their stories. Ask questions. Ask for advice. If you’ve built a good relationship with them, they will be more than happy to support you in your endeavors.
- There are always networking opportunities available to you. Networking can be as formal as attending a professional networking event or as informal as meeting new people at the local baseball game. It can take some time to become aware of the opportunities around you, but once you’ve made an effort it will be well worth your time.
What are your networking success stories? Have you faced networking obstacles? We’d love to hear from you!