Networking is the preferred job-searching method, as about 80% of positions are never advertised. The best way to access the hidden or unadvertised job market is having an internal champion and being on hiring authorities’ radar before an opening is posted.
Unlike other techniques, networking purposefully generates consistent results: qualified new job leads plus continuous access to future opportunities. Making contacts randomly or pursuing convenient connections produces fewer, less effective referrals. Today, it is not just what you know or even who you know, but who with hiring authority knows, likes and remembers (to recommend you for appropriate opportunities.)
Not all contacts are equally valuable. Not every interaction is immediately rewarding. Increasing the value of each networking interaction for both parties improves campaign efficiency and effectiveness. Focusing networking efforts where you have shared goals increases results. With the right positioning, if you can clearly and compellingly communicate your solution to specific needs, it is more likely that networking conversations will be productive. Showing, not just telling how you will increase profits, lower costs or improve processes is a sure way to make a strong, memorable positive impression.
Network Purposefully accelerates the job search process. It identifies those who need to know you to emphasize connections with maximum ROI. Your network grows exponentially with each contact who introduces you to their inner circle. Lifetime “career insurance,” is a bonus, a purposeful network comprised of individuals who already know, like and appreciate your potential contribution and will recruit you even when you are happily engaged. Regular meaningful dialogues with contacts are a priceless source of hidden/unadvertised job leads: opportunities to volunteer, then define your future role.
By cultivating, generously supporting, and managing relationships with sensitivity and courtesy, having a network developed purposefully continually opens more doors to new opportunities and keeps you informed of plum positions.
Want to increase job search progress and establish long-term career insurance by networking purposefully? Here’s how:
- Objectively identify your core value proposition, including specific skills, knowledge, talents, relationships, experiences, etc.
- Define what makes you remarkable and clearly differentiate yourself from your competition while providing proof that you are reliable, trustworthy and not a hiring risk.
- Describe specific, measurable benefits you provide by succinctly communicating your unique value contribution.
- Determine which employer groups or industry categories are able to most appreciate you and where you most want to work.
- Identify target employer needs and expectations. Show how you will provide solutions and exceed their requirements. Cite trade-offs/additional knowledge or skills to balance weaknesses or deficiencies.
- Position yourself within a market niche as a remarkable go-to expert. Use success stories to confirm ability to understand challenges, adapt to corporate culture, reduce costs, increase revenues, produce profits, and improve process.
- Assess target opportunities. Anticipate potential obstacles, roadblocks or other challenges that may thwart networking and job search progress.
- Compile a list of target companies — establish and specify industry, location, ownership status, size, etc. Screen list and prioritize in groups or individually ranked order.
- Devise a strategy to address and remove barriers, eliminate threats and mitigate negative impact.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. Create and publish a marketing portfolio: resume, online profile, PowerPoint, graphics, white papers, biography, etc.
- Research target-company contacts. Choose individuals with hiring authority able to appreciate you and not feel threatened. Describe the method and timing for introductions (cold call, third party, accidental meeting, attract through media, etc.)
- Participate in virtual and in person events to increase passive exposure to target contacts while promoting yourself as an expert.
Remember “Polite, persistent pings!” Be patient, courteous and steady. Don’t expect instant results or a quick reception; relationships take time. Find mutual interests. Seek to increase your visibility while promoting trustworthiness. Use social media to establish expert status. Mix in person networking with telephone appointments, electronic one-on-one and group correspondence.
Networking is forever! Don’t abandon relationships and sacrifice work you and your contacts have put into each other. The next time (and there will be a next time!) you find yourself in the job market or your network needs help, you want to rely on each other immediately, not start networking in order to have connections. Once you are part of the inner circle, nurture your relationships, and you will have a loyal, caring network that operates in both directions. If you don’t, you will be left behind playing catch up while more connected, trusted and valued competitors are privy to the inside information that should be yours.
Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz, a nationally recognized executive talent agent and job search expert who implements swift, strategic, customized senior level job search campaigns personally making live C-level and board-member introductions. Contact her at JobWhiz.com to expedite your professional ascent.