A fact is there are plenty of job openings that will never see the light of the public. Career experts estimate that there is a vast majority of job openings that are never advertised or publicly announced and are filled through word-of-mouth, or what we call in layman’s language networking. It is a category of jobs we call the hidden job market. The likelihood of a job opening not being advertised increases with the level of the job. However, with all this knowledge, there are still many job-seekers that fail to fully utilize this concept of networking for all it is worth.
In simple terms, networking means developing a broad list of contacts, people you encounter in various social and business functions and “using” these connections rather contacts to your advantage when looking for a job. Let’s be honest, its takes sheer determination and guts to establish contacts. Walking up to strangers and getting acquainted and letting them know your intentions is not a cup of tea for everyone, however, it is a path worthy travelling by any serious job seeker. It is worthy having this at the back of your mind that it is these people in your network that are in a good position to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about companies or industries that you are interested in. In fact, depending on the rapport that you have established with them, they can introduce you to others consequently expanding your network.
Where would be the best place to start networking? To begin with, the best place to begin networking is with your family, friends and neighbors-and with their families, friends, and their neighbors too. Then you extend the network to your co-workers, colleagues in your industry, and people you meet at industry gatherings, conferences and events. You can talk to former colleagues, bosses, of course if you were in good terms, your lecturers and teachers.
A simple secret to successful networking is passion, enthusiasm- this means deciding to put your energy for it to work. Below are some tips that can help you to make your networking journey a success:
- Getting organized-having you facts, papers, business cards ready. Remember Luck favors preparedness. Have a mental picture of what you want and when you want it.
- Communicate with your network – the most challenging part in networking is not initiating a network but keeping at it. It is extremely important to stay in touch with your network, which you can easily do by telephone calls, mails, or email. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Most people like helping others, and you must communicate your current needs with your network so they can help you.
- Set goals for yourself-for instance how many contacts to make in a week or in a month.
- Perform a personal evaluation-this is an honest view of your strengths and weaknesses. With this you can make decisions relating to the types of jobs you want and the types of companies and industries that interest you. This will also have a firm grip of your accomplishments and transferable skills.
- Prepare a strong resume- If you don’t have a ready resume, now is the time to develop one. If you have a resume, a current one, now is the time to update and polish it.
- Decide how to organize your network. This step is crucial to your success. If you have ongoing access to a computer, the best method is a database or spreadsheet where you can enter key information, such as names, titles, company names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and dates of communication. Keeping an organized collection of business cards, where you can write notes and comments about your network, is another alternative.
- Initiate informational interviews. One of the best ways to gain more information about an occupation or industry, and to build a network of contacts in that field, is to talk with people who are currently working in the field. The purpose of the informational interview is to obtain information, not to get a job.
- Follow up with your network. The key is keeping your network informed of your situation and thanking them for their efforts. Never take your network for granted.
Armed with these tips you can easily network your way to a great job. When things don’t turn the way you wanted, don’t give up faith, success comes to the resilient.