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Networking - Does it still work?

"Networking" was the biggest buzz word of the 90's. To get a job or grow a business, all you had to do was network. Bill Gates' initial deal with IBM, in which they bought and added the MS DOS operating system to all their PC's, was a result of networking. Bill's mother worked on a Board of Directors with IBM's president, and that contact started Microsoft's incredible rise to the top. Likewise, savvy job hunters knew that developing contacts lead to discovering many great jobs that were never advertised. And, with 85% of all jobs not appearing in the want ads, networking was a great job hunting tool. But does it still work today? Before I answer that question, let's look at what has happened.

Many job hunters, frantic to find a job, raced from contact to contact, monopolizing people's time, becoming bothersome and pushy. It got to the point that many managers and executives refused to attend association functions because of all the job hunters there. Waiting to pounce on them. Networking never yielded instant success -- thus job hunters and business owners alike become frustrated with poor leads and the lengthy time frame it took to see results.

Today, networking is still an important career management tool. But it must be cultivated over a lifetime. Memberships in clubs, groups and associations can not start the day you need a job. By actively participating in professional and community organizations you become known to others, and these contacts will lead you to various opportunities that may eventually enhance and expand your career. Use these effective guidelines to network and still obtain positive results:

  • Plan your networking activities. Define the groups to attend, the types of people you need to meet, and think of what you can offer others. Make lists of new contacts including ways to meet them. Arrange a networking activity and time every week.
  • Join organizations and become a visible contributor. Serve on committees so other members know and recognize you. Make efforts to help others whenever possible, so they in return will be happy to help you.
  • Develop a 20-second introduction that reveals your name, job title and a brief summary of your work expertise and background. Don't assume people know what you do and what your best talents are, tell them.
  • Never ask for a job. Instead, ask for no more than 15 minutes of advice to direct you on your job search. Reassure the person that, although you are job hunting, you don't expect them to know about or have a job for you. This alleviates any uncomfortable expectations and allows the contact to be more at ease and helpful. Always ask for referrals and send a thank you note.
  • Develop a list of 15-20 companies that have the job you seek. Share the list with your contacts and ask them for other companies that you should also consider. Follow-up by asking if they know someone who works at any of the companies on your list - and then contact the referral.
  • Start networking with people you know. Anyone can help you - neighbors, family, friends - everyone knows someone, so don't limit yourself to just colleagues in your field.

© Copyright 2009 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.

Robin Ryan has appeared on Oprah and Dr. Phil is considered America’s top career coach. Robin has a busy career counseling practice providing individual career coaching, resume writing services, interview preparation, salary negotiations, and outplacement, to clients nationwide. She is the best-selling author of: " 60 Seconds & You're Hired!", " Soaring On Your Strengths", " What to Do with the Rest of Your Life", " Winning Resumes" and, "Winning Cover Letters". A dynamic national speaker, Robin has spoken to over 1200 audiences sharing her insights on how to improve their lives and obtain greater success. Contact Robin at: 425.226.0414, or email: robin@robinryan.com, or visit her website: http://www.robinryan.com

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