Networking 101 |
By John Lundberg | director of events at RecruitMilitary and a former gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps |
Published in the July/August 2010 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Networking is a great tool for landing a job. Technology can help you build a network, but the process still proceeds contact by contact. Try these techniques:
1. Start by reaching out to friends and family. Do not ask them for a job or whether they know anyone that is hiring. Nobody likes to be put on the spot, so by asking directly for their help even if you think they are in a position to help you may make them feel awkward.
Just let them know you are in a transition mode. Be positive and let them know your preferences in a short email or personal letter. Tell them, for example, “I sure would like to get back home,” or “I’ve always wanted to end up in the Southwest.” Most people will be happy to help if they can, especially if they know you personally. If they have a contact who can help you, they will reach you. At that time, they may request your resume or—so do not send it with your initial email or note.
2. If you are fortunate enough to work with vendors in your line of work, ask your contacts whether they could put you in touch with the individual in their organization who is responsible for hiring. Many organizations pay their employees a referral bonus for finding people who become employees, so you may be doing your contact a big favor. Just be careful if you are in a position that could unfairly reward a vendor—that could be seen as a conflict of interest.
3. Informational interviews are a great way to get additional insight into an industry or a company. A simple offer to take someone to lunch to “pick his/her brain” could add several key contacts. You would then follow up with the contacts as referrals rather than cold calls.
But do not put the person you are interviewing in an uncomfortable position by asking for contacts. The person will know your situation. If you make a favorable impression, he or she will open the right doors for you.
4. Alumni assistance centers are great places to start to see whether fellow alumni are looking for new employees. This advice applies not just to colleges, but also technical schools and military schools you have attended.
Perhaps there is no formal assistance center, but by reaching out to your former fellow students, you may uncover a great untapped resource. Do not miss the opportunity to go to class reunions to expand or refresh your network.
5. Interest groups that you may belong to will provide both contacts and enjoyment as you build your network. Such groups include church groups, golf leagues, and service organization such as Rotary and Kiwanis. Even if you don’t consider yourself an outgoing individual, most organizations will welcome a new member who shares their passion for an activity.
6. A military mentoring network can be an excellent way to build contacts by either industry or geographical region. Veterans are usually eager to help fellow veterans. Just keep your requests reasonable, and resist the temptation to ask for a job right off the bat.
7. A chance encounter on an airplane, in an elevator, or at a sporting event can be a gift that enables you to expand your network. Always be friendly, outgoing, and positive, and others will be drawn to you.
Finally, remember that chance encounters work both ways. Be ready to help others along as well.