Whether you are unemployed or seeking a job change, networking is a critical part of the search. This is especially true in the current job market. Beginning a job search requires serious planning. Would you decide to take a vacation without research, plans and reservations? Hopefully, you would not.
There are five steps to a successful job search by networking:
1) Develop a plan for your job search. Give some thought to your skills, interests and experience. Start a list with this information. Determine how much time you will devote to this search. If you are unemployed, you need to dedicate the same number of hours you previously worked. Job searching is now your new job.
2) Develop a current resume. If you have skills, experience or education applicable to more than one industry, you need a resume for each industry. If you need some guidance with the resume preparation, there are books and software programs available to assist you.
When you have finished the groundwork by developing a plan and preparing a resume, you are ready to begin the networking process.
3) Set up a system to organize your networking endeavor. This step is extremely important to your networking success. Without organization, this process will not succeed. You can set up a spreadsheet on the computer or use the old-fashioned spiral notebook. Who should be included in your network? Include friends, family, co-workers or previous co-workers as a starting point. Write down names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses and a date column to track communications. You also need space to write comments and notes after each contact. Now, add to your network names of church members, your hairdresser and neighbors. You may have a conversation in a doctor’s waiting room that leads to a job possibility. Add former employers and former classmates because anyone may be a source of information that results in a job. Once the initial network has been set up, go online and visit job boards.
4) You now have your plan, your current resume and your initial network has been set up. Begin contacting the network by phone, email or mail. Let everyone know that you are looking for a job. You may be asked for a copy of your resume; be sure to send it right away.
5) Stay in contact with your network by following up at least once a week. Keep them informed of your progress and be sure to thank each one.
Do not underestimate the power of your network. It has been reported that at least 60% of all jobs are found by networking. Some career experts report that networking accounts for far more than 60% of jobs found. Once you have your new job, contact everyone in the network and share the good news. Send everyone a thank you note for their time and effort on your behalf.