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Step 4: Who Do You Know…?

Step 1: So, You’re Looking For a Job…
Step 2: What’s Your Plan…?
Step 3: What’s Your Value…?

“Networking” was always a dirty word to me. I came from a software development and network administration background where engineers felt that networking was for sycophants. My understanding was that people who actively networked were not sincere and wanted to take advantage of others. This is definitely not what comes to my mind today. What matters is what you’re goals are. A job search is not the time to set up a new network, its the time to rely on one.

Just to level set my perspective on networking, the reason that I reach out to people is primarily that I like them. I establish relationships because I’m curious about industries, companies, technologies, hobbies, or just about anything and I find people to answer my questions; We share a mutual interest. I maintain these relationships informally by sharing what I’m doing and finding ways that I can help them.

You should now have a clear idea about your goals, identified specific companies that you would be interested in working with, and should have had a professional build your resume. You are ready to start knocking on doors. I don’t know anyone that thought they had much luck sending resumes out cold. Sure, you can get lucky so definitely get that resume out on the job search web sites. More importantly, though, is to talk with folks in your network. Identify those people in your network that work for those companies or find out who in your network knows people that work in those companies. Ask your friends if they would make an introduction. The best hires I’ve made have come from friends of friends. Also, circulate your resume throughout your network.

The World Wide Web has had a number of sites emerge that can help you manage your network. One of the best I’ve seen is LinkedIn.com. Not only can you manage your network with this site, but you can also search on specific companies and see if people in your network have friends in your target company (or companies).

if you don’t see specific jobs in your area of expertise but have compelling motivation to work for a company, pursue informational interview with friends of friends. Share your experience and your goals with them and ask their advice. What would they do in your situation? Does it appear that you would be the best candidate for a type of job when one comes open? If not, what could you do now to increase your qualifications?

Once your network is aware of what your goals are and the companies and/or industries that you are interested in they will remember you when the subject comes up with other people. “Yeah, I know someone that is interested in doing something like that. Its a solid friend that has delivered for me in the past.” This won’t happen over night so give it some time. You are trying to achieve long term goals so make sure that you’re really exploring the people, the environment, and the company culture. We spend a lot of time at work so make sure its the place you want to be.

If your goals are focused on staying within your existing company, all of this advice still applies. It will be much easier to network with trusted colleagues who know people in the areas that you’re interested in. It will also be an opportunity to meet new folks that will help you and you will be able to help in different roles throughout your company. Its an opportunity to understand more about your larger business.

My Zimbio
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