Networking Boot Camp

Jumpstart your job search with these eight tips.

September 18, 2008
by Debra Feldman

It is not uncommon for most executives to flip through their rolodex only when they need an introduction to power their job search campaign. Contrary to popular practice, the best time for leveraging connections is on a continuous basis.

So, how do you alter lazy networking habits? By networking purposefully™ you will not only develop fresh targeted contacts, but also renew existing ones. Want to be known as a savvy networker? Offer assistance even before you are asked!

A January 2006 study from CareerXRoads authored by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler shows that employee referrals is the number one external source for filling openings. Employee referrals are useful for sourcing both posted and hidden jobs that result from restructurings, new growth, transfers, unexpected resignations, retirements and pending projects.

Eight Mind-Blowing Strategies

Here are some ideas for jumpstarting your network's healthy development and making more and better connections purposefully.

  1. Expand your comfort zone and reach out to those you don't know. When your regular contacts are not producing enough high-quality referrals, you should move on. This is the time to stretch your connections by finding more individuals to reach out to and get to know.
  2. Choose your connections for their affiliations, reputations and position. Prepare an introduction that details how you solve challenges. Brand yourself as a go-to person so that when HR professionals are looking for referrals, your name comes up as the ideal candidate.
  3. Rely on third-party referrals to bypass gatekeepers. Ask your contacts about using their connections to get you introduced. A personal recommendation is more warmly received than an unsolicited letter, e-mail or call.
  4. Converse with decision-makers. Making an outstanding first impression not only puts your name in play, but hiring managers are also networked and can connect you to their colleagues elsewhere, further enlarging your reach into other organizations via a personal recommendation.
  5. Nurture your contacts purposefully. Any new, well-placed contact will eventually deliver. Organizations and people are dynamic. When you have a positive rapport with a decision-maker, continue to keep in touch even when you are not considered an applicable candidate. Don't sacrifice your investment, after you made the effort to network purposefully.
  6. Increase your online visibility. Support your positioning and get in front of recruiters and hiring managers by publishing your bio on online business networks like LinkedIn. Post your résumé on niche job sites. Niche career sites and professional associations' databases are more likely to generate interest and new connections. Invest in your own professionally designed Web site and let it boast about your strengths, abilities, talents, skills and accomplishments and demonstrate your credibility.
  7. Promote yourself as an expert. Join professional associations, attend local chapter events and assume a leadership role. Volunteer to present at professional meetings or be part of a panel discussion or virtual workshop. Publish a white paper or submit an original manuscript to a reputable firm, online or traditional media. Write letters to editors and send comments to authors.
  8. Keep in touch regularly and remember to give more help than you ask for. E-mail your contacts to update them on industry news or a mutual colleague's achievement, send them your articles and announcements, share thoughts of common interest or a link, celebrate special occasions and honor their birthdays, the New Year, etc.

By using the above tips, you can easily create and maintain your visibility and attract prospective new connections. Have a strategic career plan that emphasizes opportunities in the hidden job market in hand, be sincere and before you know it, you will be on the top rung of the job success ladder.

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© Debra Feldman, 2008

Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for cold calling, executed with high energy and savvy panache, connects candidates directly to decision makers, not HR. Network Purposefully™ with the JobWhiz, and compress your job search into mere weeks, using groundbreaking techniques soon to be profiled in Forbes magazine and featured in an upcoming syndicated television series. In addition to writing columns and conducting workshops for several revered professional associations, Debra provides career guidance to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.JobWhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent.