If you've ever felt like that one pebble tossed among the thousands of other pebbles and rocks on the beach then you are not alone.
Networking can make you feel like that and for many people it’s hard, exhausting and an overwhelming yet critical step to the job search process. Critical in that 65% to 80% of people have found work through their networking contacts.
Added to the mix is the recent statistic that shows approximately 80% of companies using social media to search for job candidates.
The path to finding a job has always been “who you know” and now it has moved to “who you are connected to both socially, professionally and personally”.
Networking can be massive but if you break it down into a few manageable steps you can get out from under that mountain of pebbles. Here’s how.
- Identify your strengths and specific accomplishments (see previous Patch post, Sea Glass and the Job Search - Planning) and feel comfortable talking about them.
- Create a list of your personal, social and professional contacts. Include names, numbers, email addressess and any other pertinent information. Let your contacts know that you are looking for work and ask for their assistance. These people may know someone who can help you. Everyone has heard of someone who found a job from a friend, neighbor, dentist, hair stylist, or the woman on the train. The list goes on.
- Create a formal and informal “Elevator Speech”. Here are two samples from the same person.
- Informal (for friend, acquaintance, family): “As you may have heard, I am returning to the job market, specifically in writing and editing journals in the pharmaceutical industry. I have 10 years of experience and have even won several awards. Would you know anyone in the industry that I could call?”
- Formal (for a professional meeting or networking event): “Hello! My name is Catherine Jones and I am delighted to be here this morning. I represent ten years of writing and editing clinical trial publications for the ABC Company. For three consecutive years my articles on microbes and cell division were featured in the New York Medical Journal. I am currently in the market for a similar position and would appreciate any contacts for my job search. I am Catherine Jones.”
- Get connected. Since most companies are using social media, it hurts your chances of finding work if you are not an active member of LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. I’ve posted a few Patch blogs on using social media.
- Make sure you give as well as you get. Networking is a two way street; it’s about building relationships and giving back.
Networking can be an overwhelming part of the job search just because there are so many different pieces, people and steps surrounding it. It can also be the most fruitful if you break it down into the steps that will allow you to stand out and be noticed.