Networking: If Nothing Else, Please Do These 4 Things

Posted by Ashley Jones

There’s usually not much you can do to escape writing a resume or participating in an interview at some point during a job search. Networking on the other hand is a job search tool you can avoid—but you know you shouldn’t. Even though it’s one of the most important tools of job search, we’re often guilty of doing the bare minimum in the networking department.

Maybe you’re shy, too busy, waiting till your job search hits a dead end…or perhaps you don’t need to network because your resume is the best in the world and who wouldn’t want to hire you? Whatever your reason for avoiding networking is, let’s be honest – we can all benefit from networking.

Networking is how you uncover the hidden job market, get that impressive resume in front of the right people, gather insider information and jump ahead in the candidate queue with the help of referrals. So please, even if you don’t want to devote a ton of time and effort into expanding your network, do your job search a favor and consider these four basic principles of networking:

1. As you likely guessed…get out in the community

Use professional events, job fairs, educational activities, social media, and volunteer opportunities to expand your network. The list of potential networking venues goes on. You never know when you might meet someone who could be a valuable asset to your career. So be ready with a business card and have your elevator speech or 30-second commercial ready to go.

As you connect with folks in the community be sure to get their business cards so you can connect on social media or send a short, personalized email message to build on your initial introductions. Networking is all about building relationships and sustaining them.

It’s ideal to get out there and meet new people, but don’t overlook those you’ve already connected with in the past. Your current or previous workplace is another venue to build your network. Many coworkers will move on to other companies at some point in their career, and they can offer leads and recommendations when they get there.

2. It’s not all about you, so offer help where you can

Effective networking is a two-way street. Ask yourself how can you be of assistance to your network. Don’t just contact people out of the blue and immediately ask for names and information to help your own job search. You need to nurture your relationships.

Be considerate of other people’s needs and make a genuine offer to help. Maybe you can connect them to someone else you know or send them a job listing that matches their interests. Always take calls and return emails from your network connections and do what you can to return the favor when someone offers you help.

3. Don’t be the person that eats and runs – stay in touch

If you’ve reached out to someone about your job search or asked for any kind of help, follow up to share the outcome. If they referred you to someone, let them know how the conversation went and say thanks again. And when you conclude your job search, tell them where you ended up.

Also stay in touch to keep track of what your connections are up to. This will help you know when you can be of assistance to them. People will stop responding to you if you only reach out when you need something from them.

4. The hard part: Keep networking even when you don’t need a job

This is where networking often falls apart for job seekers. You land your new cleared job, you get busy adjusting to your new routine, and you get comfortable – so you figure you don’t need to spend time on networking anymore. Right? You know that’s wrong.

Studies show that individuals who network throughout their career, and not just in job search mode, are more successful. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, making new connections is always vital. Remember, it’s best practice to always build and expand your professional network before you need it.

The hardest part is getting started from scratch, so keep your networking efforts going. Send a quick note to see how someone in your network is doing. Attend a local meetup and connect with some of the other attendees on LinkedIn afterwards. Setting a recurring goal to nurture your existing network or connect with someone new is a great way to keep yourself accountable.

While you may not adopt these four networking principles and become the model of exceptional networking today, at least dip your toe in the networking pool. Write a meaningful comment on a LinkedIn post or follow up with a recruiter you met at a job fair. One conversation with the right person can lead to your next cleared career opportunity.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 10:42 am

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