The positions advertised through the newspaper, employment agencies, your career office, or on the web only represent 20% of all the jobs that are available. Statistics consistently show that most people who are successful in obtaining employment do so through a process called “networking.”
Article by Bob Cohen an assistant director at the career services office at Harvard University.
Networking is Simple
Networking is simply getting information from people you know or developing contacts from them. It’s no different than trying to find out about a movie or a good place to go for dinner. You ask around and, sooner or later, someone knows somebody who knows the information you need. In the same way, everyone knows someone who can help them in the job search process. No matter how thoroughly you develop and use your network, you can always do more.
Who to Contact?
The following is a partial list of possible networking sources:
- Your school’s alumni.
- Professional, community, religious, political, or social organizations.
- Your friend’s parents and your parent’s friends.
- Faculty, advisors, staff members.
- Your classmates and former classmates.
- Former employers and co-workers.
- Neighbors, family, and friends.
Where to Start
- Decide what market, function, and industry you’re going to target; make sure you can clearly explain your objectives.
- Make a list of everyone you know. Don’t eliminate people because they do not seem to be in the right industry or field. They might know someone who does.
- Call your contacts, be specific about what you’re looking for, and ask if they know anyone who could help you.
- Keep adding to your network list. Your goal is to talk to anyone who is in a position to influence your job search.
- Remember…you are not asking for a job. You would just like informational contacts in the industries or organizations you have targeted.
- Leverage contact names as a door-opener. Use names you are given to get to a contact in your chosen field or a decision-maker. Simply say, “Pat Shulman suggested I contact you…”
- Don’t worry about offending or intruding on people. Most people are flattered by requests for help or guidance.
- Use the opportunity to learn as much as you can. This will prepare you for actual job interviews.
- Always ask for other contacts. The name of the game in networking is to talk to as many people as possible. Try to never leave a network meeting without more names.
- Be certain to follow-up on every lead you get and acknowledge by letter your appreciation for the assistance you’ve received.