Job Search Advice – Map Your Network

Network Map 2-17-13

Map Your Network  | 

By John Lundberg  |  director of events at RecruitMilitary and a former gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps  | 

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of print Search & Employ®  | 

You may have heard that anyone in the world is separated from anyone else by no more than six degrees of separation. Theoretically, anyone you want to meet is only an average of six people away from you. So how do you find the right person with the right job for you?

Start by defining who is in your network. One authority says that the average person has 250 people in his or her network. Suppose you have 250 people in your network, and each of those has 250 in his/her network. There would be as many as 250 X 250 =  62,500 people two degrees of separation from you.

Of course, many of the people in your network will have many of the same people in their networks. For example, if you have five high school classmates in your network, one of them might have the other four in his/her network. So the number of “second-degree people” will not actually be 62,500 – but it will still be a very large number.

This multiplication effect makes networking an effective job-search tool. But to use the tool well, you need to decide carefully who is in your network.

To keep the process manageable, I suggest that you start with a much smaller number than 250. How about 64?

You might use the diagram in this article as a starting point. Each square is supposed to represent a different segment of your life in which you have developed relationships. If one or two of the categories do not fit you, replace them.

Try to come up with at least eight people in each category. Rapidly write or down or type every name that comes to mind. Keep the people grouped in their categories to help yourself recall other names. And avoid the temptation to filter this list at first, even if you go way beyond eight names in a category. Defining your network should be a creative process that jogs your memory of associations, groups, or activities in which you have been involved.

But if you have a lot of trouble thinking of people in a given category, replace the category – or you may want to combine a couple categories and then add one.

When you are finished, try to cut the number of people in each category to eight. You should know each of those individuals well enough to expect a favorable response when you tell him or her that you are in the job market. If you do not wind up with exactly eight names in each category, don’t try to force the process – any final number close to 64 should be manageable.

Next comes the task of organizing your network into a contact list. Write the name, phone number, and email address (or social network site) of each person – or type the information into a spreadsheet. Also enter whatever business information you have for your contacts.

At this point, you may find it useful to prioritize your contacts into three equal – or nearly equal – groups by assigning numbers to them: “1” for the contacts you believe are the best connected, “2” for people you think have an average-sized network, and “3” for individuals you suspect are not as well connected as the average person. All of the “1’s” would be your first contacts.

As you start working your network, you can use this document to record such information as the date of the last time you contacted each individual and the results of your last meeting, including information regarding job leads, others to contact, whether you followed up with a letter, etc.

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers