NEWS + ADVICE
It Really Is All About Networking
Are you groaning already? Tired of hearing about the value of networking?
Networking is a vital component of a cleared job hunt. It’s not effective when jumped into on the spur of the moment either. Building your network will take time and should continue throughout your career, not just when you’re in job search mode. And it’s really just talking to other cleared professionals – informally or formally – about your job search and your career goals.
Keep in mind that networking is a valuable long-term professional development tool. It doesn’t start when you leave a job and it shouldn’t end when you land in your next one. You’ll achieve more in your career if you stay active and continually network.
Consider these networking benefits:
- Networking isn’t the same as asking for a job; often your contacts are not potential employers
- It keeps you connected to inside information regarding cleared positions that are being created
- You will be plugged into a “hidden” network (those unadvertised jobs)
- It’s absolutely essential for ongoing development, both professional and personal
- It keeps you top of mind when a good fit becomes available, maybe even a priority over other candidates if you are recommended directly to the hiring manager
Organize your job search goals
Before you make any contact, be clear about what you are seeking. Think through how you want to present yourself to possible connections and consider what you would like to receive from them.
- What type of cleared work are you seeking? Do you have specific job titles or skills in mind?
- What is your experience and what skills/certifications/education make you qualified for this role?
- Do you have an interest in a particular company?
- What are the geographical parameters of your search?
Building your network into an effective asset
Step #1 – Identify contacts
To start building connections, develop a list of all the people you can contact for assistance. Begin by thinking through everyone you know – friends, family, former colleagues, neighbors, church members, those you served with in the military, etc. Ignore all the negative chatter in your head that tells you why you can’t call on someone; just write down everyone you can think of. Go!
With that basic list, the next step is to expand it as much as possible. You can research prospects on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Read the business news in your local community. Do online research of companies where you’d like to work and find out names of recruiters and department managers. Identify industry events like conferences and seminars; attend and mingle. Consider relevant professional associations for the type of work you want to do.
Step # 2 – Connect
Review your list and make a plan for connecting. For those people you know personally, a phone call or email is appropriate. Go back to your job search goals as a reference point. Clearly communicate what type of role you seek and how you’re qualified. Include any specifics regarding companies of interest or geographical locations.
It’s much more productive to be as clear about your cleared career goals as you can rather than just saying, “I’m looking for a job, please keep me in mind.” or “Can I pick your brain?” You need to give contacts a clear direction to work with. The more people know about you and your goals, the more effective they can be in assisting you.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to ask your contacts to give you additional names to build your network. For example, “Do you know anyone at (desired company) who I could reach out to?” Or “Do you know anyone working as a (job title) who might be willing to talk with me?” If connections are offered, always confirm it’s okay to use your contact’s name.
When reaching out to potential connections that you don’t really know, you can always send a professional note to their business address or even reach out to them via LinkedIn. Also many recruiters these days have a professional Twitter account and welcome candidate communication.
Step 2-b is to stay in touch with your network. Keep notes on when you last were in touch with someone and communicate with them on a regular basis. Let them know what you’ve been up to (i.e., professional development, credentials update, volunteer work that expands your knowledge, changes to your goals, etc.)
Step #3 – Show appreciation
It’s very important to let your connections know how much you appreciate their assistance. Follow up phone calls with a quick email to say thanks. If someone has given you a lead, drop them a note to let them know the outcome. This keeps your search top-of-mind for them and it identifies you as a courteous professional.
If there are changes along the way in your job search (i.e., you decide to relocate), be sure to keep your network informed. Always make sure that you express to connections that they can call on you as well for any leads or questions they may have about the cleared community.
Once you have landed your dream job – and you will! – let all your contacts know about your success. Reiterate your gratitude and ask them to keep in touch with their professional updates. Building your network should continue throughout your career.
If you embrace the value of networking and make it an active part of your job search, you will find that the effort you put in will be rewarded for years to come.
Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling.This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:50 am