You all know how important is networking for a job search, and you’ve probably attended several networking events already and collected a pile of business cards.
But are you really utilizing this network or professionals to benefit your job search?
Asking professional or informal contacts for job search help is a great way to learn about new opportunities. Your friends and family care about you, your previous colleagues are curious about your situation, and the people you met at networking events is willing to develop a win-win relationship with you, why not use all these resources to accelerate your job search? In fact, there are ways to pop the “help me find a job” question to people that are more helpful than others . Let’s find out now!
Get To Know Your Contacts
It will be much easier to ask your contacts for help if you actually know them well. Networking is not just about collecting business cards and adding people on LinkedIn. What’s really valuable is how well connected you are to your contacts.
The tighter, and more personal the bond between you and each contact, the more value they could potentially provide for you.
Try to develop an interested in those people you meet with. What kind of people are they? What are they interested in? What’s their educational history, their personal preferences or hobbies? If you know all this, you could simply pick up the phone and ask a contact out for tennis and chat about work. After all, being curious about the detail of people’s lives is the fastest way to help you establish a useful, and valuable, connection.
People are busy and can’t possibly keep you in mind for weeks on end after one brief email or phone call. Reach out regularly – every 2 weeks or so – with an update on your search, some interesting information you found that is useful for the both of you, and maybe a request for more contacts into the industry. Don’t worry about annoying people. It’s unlikely that a call or email from you every 2 weeks or month will push anyone over the edge. It’s more likely that without regular follow-up, they’ll forget all about your request very quickly.
Be Clear About What You Want
Before approaching a contact, get clear on what it is you want from them.
What type of job are you seeking? What kind of company and work environment are you looking for? Once you’re clear on these things, approach the contact you think is most likely to be able to help you based on your preferences.
Also, be specific on what exactly you are asking them for. Are you asking for a job? An introduction? Or suggestions and opinions? Feel free to ask your contacts for whatever you want as long as it’s professional, just make sure to deliver your message clearly and in an easy-to-understand manner.
If you want to ask a contact if they know of any jobs going, be sure to ask a contact who has their own contacts within the specific industry or organizations you’re interested in. If you’re asking them for an introduction, then they obviously have to know someone who’ll it be worth you being introduced to. If you’re asking a contact for their opinion, then they should be knowledgeable on what you’re asking about.
It’s not only important to be clear about what you’re asking your contacts for, but also to communicate it clearly. Have you ever been approached by someone in your network who was not really sure what they were asking you for, but instead just rambled on about vague ideas and plans they had? This is frustrating for everybody. Make sure that you are clear and concise in your conversation with your contacts and give them a direct description of what you’re looking for.
The most important thing is to thank people for their time. In order to help, your contact has to take time out of their life and pay attention to you, show some appreciation! If the information they offer you is not particularly helpful, say thank you anyway. If you find yourself needing more than 30 minutes of someone’s assistance at one time, check in to be sure it’s okay with the person, and afterwards, find a chance to return the favor in some way, or perhaps take them to lunch as a gesture of appreciation.
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