Get More Interviews through Networking
- Concentrate on the industries in which you are interested. Networking is an effective strategy for exploring career options, gaining insider information, and learning about hiring practices. If you want to learn more about the challenges, rewards and demands of certain industries, talking to people who actually work in those fields is one of the most effective strategies.
- Develop a well-rounded network. Contact people you already know and ask who they know in the industry you’re targeting. Your network base should be divided into two categories: personal relationships including relatives, friends, and members of social organizations in which you participate; and professional relationships including colleagues in your organization, colleagues in other organizations, members of professional associations, customers, clients and collaborators.
- Know what you want and what you can offer. If you want others to take your job search seriously then you have to be serious about your job search. This means that you have to take inventory of you skills, be able to summarize your situation, and be able to articulate you career objectives.
- Educate your network base. People love to feel that they’ve helped someone in need, and this is exactly the case! Ask for specific information and/or referral or recruiter contacts. Prepare in advance for what you want to ask them. Above all, communicate your needs with confidence.
- Ask each person for more names. You must ask for referrals in order to build your network base. Set a goal of three contact names per networking meeting.
- Keep your contacts informed of your progress. When someone takes the time to offer advice, be sure to let them know much you appreciate their help and how their support has helped you in your search.
- Keep a record of each person you talk to, even if they say “no”. This way, you won’t duplicate a call, and can track who referred whom. Use a Networking Activity Log for this purpose.
Successful Networking: “The Rules”
- Tell people who referred them and how highly regarded they are. “Joe Smith in maintenance said you would be a wonderful resource to give me some feedback.”
- Let them know you’re considering a job change and want to “test” your résumé before you send it out.
- Ask people to take 5-10 minutes to meet with you to review your résumé and tell you if it contains the type of information that would help them decide whether someone is right for the positions you’re targeting.
- Thank each person for his/her input, even if it’s poor advice like “Your résumé should be only one page.”
- Ask each person who gives you feedback to give you a couple of names of other people who could provide you with valuable input from another viewpoint–preferably someone who actually makes hiring decisions, so you would get an opinion “straight from the horse’s mouth.”
- Prepare a few 30-second stories that summarize who you are, your experience and personal characteristics.
- Listen for needs the company has that you could meet. Mention how you have had a similar experience, and how well you solved the problem. Don’t make it sound like an interview; instead relate it to an accomplishment on the résumé. Then, ask if it is presented well in the résumé.
- Send thank-you notes. This demonstrates that you have respect for your contact’s time and that you recognize and appreciate their efforts.
- Ask for a job interview. Most employers aren’t interested in doing a job interview based on your call, so don’t give the impression that you currently want to come work for them.
- Take over 10 minutes, unless they ask you to stay. Instead, say something like, “I know your time is valuable, and I see we’ve taken the 10 minutes I asked for.”
- Change your résumé based on every piece of feedback you receive. Remember that everyone has different ideas – you’re looking for general feedback and will get some very good input, probably mixed with some ineffective ideas.
- Be “threatening” to people in your network. Don’t ask for feedback from someone who would be replaced by you if the company hired you.
- Act like they owe you the time; be gracious if they aren’t interested.
- Be a pest. Following up is good, but too much can make a person feel overwhelmed. Once a month by phone is enough, while thank-you notes can be sent weekly, if you have a legitimate reason.