Adapted from a 2017 National Conference Presentation by Julie Jansen
Networking is a powerful tool that can help you land the job you want. In fact, most jobs are found by following up on leads or connections from people you know. But for so many of us, the mere thought of networking can cause stress and discomfort and then when treatment and recovery are added into the mix it can feel downright impossible to do. The important thing is to just get started — whether it is updating your LinkedIn profile or telling your closest friends and family you are looking to meet new people and find your next job — because once you build some habits and momentum, networking gets easier and doors will start to open.
Networking is an ongoing, interactive process of creating and nurturing relationships. Among the key benefits:
- Developing valuable contacts
- Obtaining job leads
- Sharing information
- Being a role model
- Enhancing your image
- Promoting your achievements and skills
- Gaining a deeper knowledge of something
- Validating or revising your goals
These days, approximately 85% of all jobs are found through networking. Below are some additional noteworthy statistics:
- 80% of jobs are in what is called “the hidden job market.”
- Most people you meet have at least 250 contacts.
Coming Up with a Plan
Ideally, networking should be an embedded, ongoing part of your day-to-day life, not something that is strictly event-driven. To make that the case, you need to have a plan. Here are some guidelines:
- Commit to the idea that you are going to take networking seriously.
- Begin or end each day by calling or emailing a business or personal acquaintance you haven’t communicated with in three months or longer.
- Set reachable goals for the number of people you want to meet and communicate with every week.
- It’s not about making large numbers of contacts; rather, it’s about making meaningful connections.
- Keep organized with CAC’s Networking Tracker.
Offering Help in Return
The essence of networking is to focus on the other person, engage them in the process and think about what you can do for them.
- Put a Post-it note on your phone or computer that reminds you to ask how you can help the person you are reaching out to.
- Always end any networking conversation or meeting with an action or next step.
Networking Even After Losing Touch
One of the biggest challenges in tapping your network is reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time. You may feel uncomfortable doing so now because you need something. If this is the case, do the following:
- Acknowledge the lapse in time.
- Explain the "Why now?"
- Offer to do something in return.
Read more about tips & techniques to effective networking and environments that lend themselves to professional networking.