We all understand the importance of networking when you’re looking for a job. And even though you seem to be doing everything correctly, sometimes it doesn’t bring the results you thought it would. It could be that you’re missing something. It could be that you’re technique needs tweaking. Maybe you don’t have enough contacts.
A good list of contacts and the ability to grow that list is the starting point for your networking skills. Friends and family are a given. So are neighbors, church and social club members you know. It would logical that you include former employers and colleagues but some people are afraid to do so, fearing what they might say or feeling uncomfortable about letting them know they are looking for work. If you don’t tap the resources, you are leaving opportunities by the wayside.
Don’t forget about college affiliations. You probably went to school with lots of people pursuing similar education and job fields. Get in touch with members of your class or sorority. Did you belong to clubs in school? Did you have some favorite teachers or professors? These can be contacts as well.
Some colleges will put alumni in contact with other alumni who have agreed to offer assistance in career planning and development strategies. Often this will be in specific career fields of interest. They may provide assistance with searching for jobs or internships. Some will even agree to be mentors in your chosen field.
And don’t forget mentors. These people can come from every walk of life. If they were important and helpful to you at some point in your life, they might be so again.
Prepare Your Pitch
Having an effective pitch can be one of your most important networking skills. Your pitch should include who you are, why you’re calling and how you got that particular contacts name, if it’s someone you were referred to. You should be able to expound on your goals and have a list of questions ready to ask.
Before you call a contact, particularly a new one, do some research on the company they work for and the job they do. This will allow you to ask informed questions. You want to make the best impression possible so this person will want to help you.
Practice your pitch. It should sound natural and confidant not memorized and recited by rote like the Pledge of Allegiance. Be engaging, perhaps witty but don’t waste too much of the other person’s time.
Follow up is a critical networking skill that can make or break your job search. Send a thank you note a week or two after the initial contact is made. This lets people know you are courteous, thoughtful and serious about this. It also refreshes their memory about who you are and what you are trying to do.
After contact has been made, maintain contact at regular intervals. With some people this may be weekly or monthly. With others, every couple of months may be more appropriate. People like to hear how you’re progressing. You can also ask them if they know any contacts you can add to your list.