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Will networking really make a difference?

Why you need to network

Networking is a job search technique that is highly recommended because it can often open up career opportunities in an intensely competitive job market - with too many candidates chasing too few jobs

Carried out effectively, networking can be a means of tapping into the 'hidden' job market - those positions that haven't yet been released to recruitment agencies or reached the online or newspaper classifieds

Despite the positive benefits, networking remains a method of job searching that many people resist completely or face with trepidation.

Why the reluctance?

Barriers can arise through:

pride - not wanting to ask favours, or a fear of rejection

negative presumptions - having little faith in own value and believing that others see them as inadequate in some way

reluctance to try a different approach - preferring to limit job search to more traditional methods that worked in the past

specialist skills - taking the view that networking is not appropriate as their skills are exceptionally unique

lack of understanding - not knowing exactly what networking is about

All these concerns are very understandable, however a major stumbling block is often a lack of understanding as to what networking is, how to begin and how to do it.

Many people don't realise that by missing network opportunities they are prolonging their search and limiting their potential for success

What is networking ?

Networking is not a new trend, most people network as part of their everyday life - preferring to make decisions on recommendation for schools, dentists, doctors, social clubs, travel etc. The power of referral can be very strong and expanding the approach into job search activities is therefore the logical next step.

How to begin

Firstly, it helps to understand that networking is the art of building alliances - long-term.

It's not about contacting everyone you know only when you are looking for a new job. It is about always being ready to make contact and exchange business cards even if it is not immediately apparent a person can benefit your job search.

Networking is about continuously nurturing existing relationships, and building new contacts through everyone you know. Talk to people regularly to see how they're doing.  Assist with their problems.

Who could be in my network?

  • contacts on LinkedIn
  • friends and family on Facebook
  • colleagues and employers
  • clients, customers and suppliers
  • alumni associations and institutes
  • sport and social clubs
  • voluntary organisations
  • training seminars
  • people you meet at business conferences
  • neighbours and community associates
  • doctors, dentists, teachers and coaches

Each person in your network has a unique knowledge with potential contacts who might help you - so tap into their experience, know-how and network.

How to do it

Three important steps ...

1. Introduce yourself and listen

The bedrock of effective networking is to have interesting conversations. So be prepared. Thoroughly research people's work, background and particular area of interest or expertise. If you can appear knowledgeable about what interests them all well and good. However, the real secret is to ask their views and listen. This helps in getting the conversation flowing and in building a rapport

Don't be afraid to ask for help. In general, people are flattered to be asked for their views and advice, and this is likely to be just as true if asked to discuss your job search. Most people like to help if they can - it gives that 'feel good' factor.

Make sure that your resume is right up-to-date and readily to hand.

Most importantly, follow up the contact. Speak warmly of their helpfulness and let them know that you valued a specific part of their advice and will follow it through. This will ensure that they will think of you if an opportunity arises.

2. Two-way reciprocal approach

While it is important to get your message across, it is essential that the person with whom you are talking is left with the feeling that you are interested in their concerns. For instance, you might be able to offer something unique to them - perhaps a new solution to a situation or help with a problem that they have mentioned. If people believe that you’re the kind of person who is interested in finding ways to make their life run more smoothly, they will be more inclined to want to help you in return.

A positive, helpful approach can very often lead to unexpected opportunities - as evidenced in the following case study:

"A Financial Director called into the office to update his Resume. Just after he left we noticed an advertisement for a role that suited his career aims; we gave him a call and then introduced him to the MD of the company - who was also a client. In the event, that particular job prospect came to nothing.

"Two weeks later, the Financial Director introduced a leading UK recruitment agency to us - a network initiative that we are very grateful for as the contact has since developed into a much valued business partnership.

"Shortly afterwards, the Financial Director was invited by the MD to meet one of his business associates. That introduction led to a job offer and he found his ideal niche."

Our client is clearly an accomplished networker and practices the key ingredients to successful networking:

don't overlook opportunities - however unlikely they may appear

don't give up if you don't succeed at first

don't forget to give something back - be helpful in putting people in touch with someone useful

Building his network paid dividends for both him and for his contacts.

3. Keep networking

Even after you've found a job, keep in touch. There's little point in making the effort to get to know people if you don't continue to develop the relationships. Treat your network with respect and it will still be there in the future. You never know when you might need it again.

Networking will help you to succeed in today's challenging employment industry by facilitating access to the jobs that never get publicised and some of the best career opportunities.

Don't miss out - effective networking really can help you to identify the people who either have inside knowledge of job vacancies or who know the right people to contact.

If you get networking right, you'll discover it can pay dividends not just in your career but in your everyday life as well.

Make sure you give your career the very best opportunity

If you would like help in managing a career change
please email

An article by
Helga A Edge MBA
Principal Consultant,      

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