Sherri Sacks, Career Coach
As a Career Coach at JCS, I often stress the importance of networking to my clients. Many are resistant to this suggestion either because they say the idea of networking makes them nervous, they’re not good at it, or they don’t even know what it is.
As it turns out, my clients are not alone. A study from Woodcliff Lake, N.J., talent management firm Lee Hecht Harrison reports that 31% of job seekers have a difficult time identifying networking partners, while 19% lack confidence in networking situations.
People looking for jobs will often create a cover letter, complete and submit online job applications, and then sit back and wait for an employer to call. But with the overwhelming number of applications pouring in, it’s hard to get noticed. Not to mention, many jobs are not even posted or advertised publicly. A 2012 report from ABC News revealed that 80% of all jobs are found through networking and networking events.
So no matter how many people are intimidated by networking, the fact is, networking works. But you have to have a plan. The best networking plans use a combination of online and offline methods. Here are some tips for starting yours:
Write down the names of everyone you know. Yes, even those distant relatives you haven’t seen in years. Include all your previous employers, co-workers, vendors you may have dealt with and previous clients you worked with. Also include on this list your friends, neighbors, and people you know through other activities. This is your ‘hot list”.
Start online with LinkedIn. Make sure your “hot list” is right next to you. Find these people on LinkedIn and send them a connection request. Most, if not all, will accept your invitation. But don’t stop there. If they are in a field you would like to be in, you can “message” them and ask them if they are aware of any opportunities. Pay attention to their profiles. That will give you suggestions for how to set up yours. One of the other benefits of LinkedIn is that you can see who they are connected to incase they know someone who can help you. And you can also see which groups each of your new connections belongs to and join the ones that are in your field of interest.
Once you are in these groups, find events where you can ‘network’. You will also find job postings and other messages that could possibly lead to jobs you have been seeking. In fact you can even post that you are looking for position and now have your message in front of influencers and employers who are most likely to hire you.
Check other online sites. Did you know that Facebook also has fan pages and business pages? Do a search and “friend” everyone on your LinkedIn “hot list” on Facebook. Again you should connect with these folks and message them to let them know that you are in the market for a position. Also be sure to check out and join the business pages and fan pages of all related businesses and industry groups. There are many other social networking sites to explore such as Twitter, Tweetmyjobs.com and Twellow.com. I strongly recommend an eclectic approach to networking. You will benefit from more than one tool in your tool belt.
Try the ultimate local networking opportunity, Meetup. When you go to www.Meetup.com, this site will show you all of the events in the area that are related to your industry or field of interest. There is typically no charge for attendance and you are sure to meet like-minded people with whom you can network. You may also meet your future employer at your next Meetup. If you find there is no Meetup in your field of interest, you can start your own and invite many of your new-found contacts from LinkedIn and Facebook.
Remember that the key to success with networking is making sure you are connected to the right people, with the right message. People hire people, so start implementing your new networking plan today.
Sherri Sacks, Career Coach, JCS Career Center
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.