- Get the Information You Need
- Find Out About All of the Available Jobs
- Networking: A Proactive Approach
- Preparing to Network
- Beginning the Networking Process
- General Networking Tips
- Shutting Down Your Network
Source: Great Jobs for Math Majors, Lambert, Stephen L & DeCotis, Ruth J
Networking is the process of deliberately establishing relationships to get career-related information or to alert potential employers that you are available for work. Networking is critically important to today’s job seeker for two reasons: it will help you get the information you need, and it can help you find out about all of the available jobs.
Get the Information You Need
Networkers will review your resume and give you feedback on its effectiveness. They will talk about the job you are looking for and give you a candid appraisal of how they see your strengths and weaknesses. If they have a good sense of the industry or the employment sector for that job, you’ll get their feelings on future trends in the industry as well. Some networkers will be very forthcoming about salaries, job-hunting techniques, and suggestions for your job search strategy. Many have been known to place calls right from the interview deck to friends and associates who might be interested in you. Each networker will make his or her own contribution, and each will be valuable.
Because organizations must evolve to adapt to current global market needs, the information provided by decision makers within various organizations will be critical to your success as a new job market entrant. For example, you might learn about the concept of virtual organizations from a networker. Virtual organizations coordinate economic activity to deliver value to customers by using recourses outside the traditional boundaries of the organization. This concept is being discussed and implemented by chief executive officers of many organizations, including Ford Motor, Dell, and IBM. Networking can help you find out about this and other trends currently affecting the industries under your consideration.
Find Out About All of the Available Jobs
Not every job that is available at this very moment is advertised for potential applicants to see. This is called the hidden job market. Only 15 to 20percent of all jobs are formally advertised, which means that 80 to 85 percent of available jobs do not appear in published channels. Networking will help you become more knowledgeable about all the employment opportunities available during your job search period.
Although someone you might talk to today doesn’t know of any openings with his or her organization, tomorrow or next week or next month an opening may occur. If you’ve taken the time to show an interest in and knowledge of their organization, if you’ve shown the company representative how you can help achieve organizational goal and that you can fit into the organization, you’ll be one of the first candidates considered for the position.
Networking: A Proactive Approach
Networking is a proactive rather than a reactive approach. You, as a job seeker, are expected to initiate a certain level of activity on your own behalf; you cannot afford to simply respond to jobs listed in the newspaper. Being proactive means building a network of contracts that includes informed and interested decision makers who will provide you with up-to-date knowledge of the current job market and increase your chances of finding out about employment opportunities appropriate for your interests, experience, and level of education. An old axiom of networking says, “You are only two phone calls away from the information you need.” In other words, by talking to enough people, you will quickly come across someone who can offer you help.
Preparing to Network
In deliberately establishing relationship, maximize your efforts by organizing your approach. Five specific areas in which you can organize your efforts include reviewing your self-assessment, reviewing your research on job sites and organizations, decided who you want to talk to, keeping track of all your efforts and creative your self-promotion tools.
Review Your Self-Assessment
Your self-assessment is as important a tool in preparing to network as it have been in other aspects of your job search. You have carefully evaluated your personal traits, personal values, economic needs, longer-term goals, skill base, preferred skills, and underdeveloped skills. During the networking process you will be called upon to communicate what you know about yourself and relate it to the information or job you seek.
Review research on Job Sites and Organizations
In addition, individuals assisting you will expect that you’ll have at least some background information on the occupation or industry of interest to you.
Decide Whom You Want to Talk to
Networking cannot begin until you decide who you want to talk to and, in general, what type of information you hope to gain from your contacts. Once you know this, it’s time to begin developing a list of contacts. Five useful sources for locating contacts are described here.
College Alumni Network. Most colleges and universities have created a formal network of alumni and friends of the institution who are particularly interested in helping currently enrolled students and graduates of their alma mater gain employment-related information.
It is usually a simple process to make use of an alumni network. Visit your college’s website and locate the alumni office and/or you career center. Either or both sites will have information about your school’s alumni network. You’ll be provided with information on shadowing experiences, geographic information, or those alumni offering job referrals. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to phone or e-mail you career center and ask what they can do to help you connect with an alum.
Alumni networking may provide some combination of the following services: day-long shadowing experience, telephone interview, in-person interviews, information on relocating to given geographic areas, internship information, suggestions on graduate school study, and job vacancy notices.
Present and Former Supervisors. If you believe you are on good terms with present or former job supervisors, they may be an excellent resource for providing information or directing you to appropriate resources that would have information related to your current interests and needs. Additionally, these supervisors probably belong to professional organizations that they might be willing to utilize to get information for you.
Employers in Your Area. Although you may be interested in working in a geographic location different from the one where you currently reside, don’t overlook the value of the knowledge and contacts those around you are able to provide. Use the local telephone directory and newspaper to identify the types of organizations you are thing of working for or professionals who have the kinds of jobs you are interested in. Recently, a call made to a local hospital’s financial administrator for information on working in health-care financial administration yielded more pertinent information on training seminars, regional professional organizations, and potential employment sites than a national organization was willing to provide.
Employers in Geographic Areas Where You Hope to Work. If you are thinking about relocating, identifying prospective employers or informational contacts in the new location will be critical to your success. Here are some tips for online searching. First, use a “metasearch” engine to get the most out of your search. Metasearch engines combine several engines into one powerful tool. We frequently use dogpile.com and metasearch.com for this purpose. Try using the city and state as your keywords in a search. New Haven, Connecticut will bring you to the city’s website with links to the chamber of commerce, member businesses, and other valuable resources. By using looksmart.com you can locate newspapers in any area, and they, too, can provide valuable insight before you relocate. Of course, both dogpile.com and metasearch.com can leave you to yellow and white page directories in areas you are considering.
Professional Associations and Organizations. Professional associations and organization can proved valuable information in several areas: career paths that you might not have considered, qualifications relating to those career choices, publication that list current job openings, and workshops or seminars that will enhance your professional knowledge and skills. They can also be excellent sources for background information on given industries: their health, current problems, and future challenges.
There are several excellent resources available to help you locate professional association and organizations that would have information to meet your needs. Two especially useful publications are the Encyclopedia of Associations and National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States.
Keep Track of All You Efforts
It can be difficult, almost impossible, to remember all the details related to each contacts you make during the networking process, so you will want to develop a record-keeping system that works for you. Formalize this process by using your computer to keep a record of the people and organizations you want to contract. You can simply record the contact’s name, address, and telephone number and what information you hope to gain.
You could record this as a simple Word document and you could still use the “Find” function if you were trying to locate some data and could only recall the firm’s name or the contact’s name. If you’re comfortable with database management and you have some database software on your computer, then you can out information at your fingertips even if you have only the zip code! The point here is not technological sophistication but good record keeping.
Once you have created this initial list, it will be helpful to keep more detailed information as you being to actually make the contacts. Those details should include complete contact information the date and content of each contact, names and information for addition networkers, and required follow-up. Don’t forget to send a letter thanking your contact for his or her time! You contact will appreciate you recall of details of your meetings and conversations, and the information will help you to focus your networking efforts.
Create Your Self-Promotion Tools
There are two types of promotional tools that are used in the networking process. The first is a resume and cover letter, and the second is a one-minute “infomercial,” which may be given over the telephone or in person.
Techniques for writing an effective resume and cover letter are discussed in Chapter 2. Once you have reviewed that material and prepared these important documents, you will have created one of your self-promotion tools.
The one-minute infomercial will demand that you begin tying your interests, abilities, and skills to the people or organizations you want to networks with. Think about your goal for making the contact to help you understand what you should say about yourself. You should be able to express yourself easily and convincingly. If, for example you are contacting an alumnus of your institution to obtain the names of possible employment sites in a distant city, be prepared to discuss why you are interested in moving to that location, the types of jobs you are interested in, and the skills and abilities you possess that will make you a qualified candidate.
To create a meaningful one-minute infomercial, write it out, practice it as if it will be a spoken presentation, rewrite it, and practice it again if necessary until expressing yourself come easily and is convincing.
Here’s a simplified example of an infomercial for use over the telephone:
Hello, Ms. Sorensen? My name is Amber Collins. I am a recent graduate of Colorado State University, and I wish to enter the marketing field. I feel confident I have many of the skills I understand are valued for marketing professionals. Along with a degree in business, I have a strong quantitative background, with good research and computer skills. In addition, I have excellent interpersonal skills and am know as an outstanding communicator as well as a creative thinker. I understand these are valuable traits in your line of work!
Ms. Sorensen, I’m calling you because I still need more information about marketing as a profession and where I might fit in. I’m hoping you’ll have time to sit down with me for about half an hour and discuss your perspective on careers in marketing with me. There are so many possible employers to approach, and I am seeking some advice on which might be the best bet for my particular combination of skills and experience.
Would you be willing to do that for me? I would greatly appreciate it. I am available most morning, if that’s convenient for you.
It very well may be that your employer contact wishes you to communicate by e-mail. The infomercial quoted above could easily be rewritten for an e-mail message. You should “cut and paste” your resume right into the email text itself.
Other effective self-promotion tools include portfolios for those in the arts, writing professions, or teaching. Portfolios show examples of work, photographs of projects or classroom activities, or certificates and credentials that are job related. There may not be an opportunity to use the portfolio during an interview, and it is not something that should be left with the organization. It is designed to be explained and displayed by the creator. However, during some networking meetings, there may be an opportunity to illustrate a point or strengthen a qualification by exhibiting the portfolio.
Beginning the Networking Process
Set the Tone for Your Communications
It can be useful to establish “tone words” for any communications you embark upon. Before making your first telephone call or writing your first letter, decide what you want the person to think of you. If you are networking to try to obtain a job, your tone words might include descriptors such a genuine, informed, and self-knowledgeable. When you’re trying to acquire information, you tone words may have a slightly different focus, such as courteous, organized, focused, and well-spoken. Use the tone words you establish for your contacts to guide you through the networking process.
Honestly Express Your Intentions
When contacting individuals, it is important to be honest about your reasons for making the contact. Establish your purpose in your own mind and be able and ready to articulate it concisely. Determine an initial agenda, whether it be informational questioning or self-promotion, present it to your contact, and be ready to respond immediately. If you don’t adequately prepare before initiating your overture, you may find yourself at a disadvantage if you’re asked to immediately begin your informational interview or self promotion during the first phone conversation or visit.
Start Networking Within Your Circle of Confidence
Once you have organized your approach- by utilizing specific researching methods, creating a system of keeping track of the people you will contact, and developing effective self-promotion tools- you are ready to being networking. The best way to being networking is by talking with a group of people you trust and feel comfortable with. This group is usually made up of your family, friends, and career counselors. No matter who is in this inner circle, they will have a special interest in seeing you succeed in your job search. In addition, because they will be easy to talk to, you should try taking some risks in terms of practicing your information seeking approach. Gain confidences in talking about the strengths you bring to an organization and the underdeveloped skills you feel hinder your candidacy. Ask for critical but construct feedback from the people in your circle of confidence on the letters you write and the one-minute infomercial you have developed. Evaluate whether your want to make the changes they suggest, and then practice the changes on others within this circle.
Stretch the Boundaries of Your Networking Circle of Confidence
Once you have refined the promotional tools you will use to accomplish your networking goals, you will want to make additional contacts. Because you will not know most of these people, it will be a less comfortable activity to undertake. The practice that you gained with your inner circle of trusted friends should have prepared you to now move outside of that comfort zone.
It is said that any information a person needs is only two phone calls away, but the information cannot be gained until you (1) make a reasonable guess about who might have the information you need and (2) pick up the telephone to make the call. Using your network list that includes alumni, instructors, supervisors, employers, and associations, you can begin preparing your list of questions that will allow you to get the information you need.
Prepare the Questions You Want to Ask
Networkers can provide you with the insider’s perspective on any given field and you can ask questions that you might not want to ask in an interview. For example, you can ask them to describe the more repetitious or mundane parts of the job or ask them for a realistic idea of salary expectations. Be sure to prepare you questions ahead of time so that you are organized and efficient.
Be Prepared to Answer Some Questions
To communicate effectively, you must anticipate questions that will be asked of you by the networkers you contact.
General Networking Tips
Make Every Contact Count. Setting the tone for each interaction is critical. Approaches that will help you communicate in an effective way include politeness, being appreciative of time provided to you, and being prepared and thorough. Remember, everyone within an organization has a circle of influence, so be prepared to interact effectively with each person you encounter in the networking process, including secretarial and support staff. Many information or jobseekers have thwarted their own efforts by being rude to some individuals they encountered as they networked because they made the incorrect assumption that certain persons were unimportant.
Sometimes your contacts may be surprised at their ability to help you. After meeting and talking with you, they might think they have not offered much in the way of help. A day or two later, however, they may make a contact that would be useful to you and refer you to that person.
With Each Contact, Widen Your Circle of Networkers. Always leave an informational interview with the names of at least two more people who can help you get the information or job that you are seeking. Don’t be shy about ask for additional contact; networking is all about increasing the number of people you can interact with to achieve your goals.
Make your own Decisions. As you talk with different people and get answers to the questions you pose, you may hear conflicting information or get conflicting suggestions. You job is to listen to these “experts” and decide what information and which suggestions will help you achieve your goals. Only implement those suggestions that you believe will work for you.
Shutting Down Your Network
As you achieve the goals the motivated your networking activity- getting the information you need or the job you want- the time will come to inactivate all or parts of your network. As you do, be sure to tell your primary supporter about your change in status. Call or write to each one of them and give them as many details about your new status as you feel is necessary to maintain a positive relationship.
Because a network takes on a life of its own, activity undertaken on your behalf will continue even after you cease your efforts. As you get calls or are contacted in some fashion, be sure to inform these networkers about your change in status, and thank them for assistance they have provided.
Information n the latest employment trends indicate that workers will change jobs or careers several times in their lifetime. Networking, then, will be a critical aspect in the span of your professional life. If you carefully and thoughtfully conduct your networking activities during your job search, you will have a solid foundation of experience when you need to network the next time around.