Becoming unemployed is likely a sudden, unexpected event, and most people do not have the networking skills needed to immediately switch gears and begin efficiently developing job leads. There could be many reasons: feeling uncomfortable with the networking process, not knowing the process, being shy by nature, or never having needed to network in the past. Unfortunately, people in transition need to resort to networking, because it has been found that 60 to 80 percent of people are getting their next jobs via networking.
The purpose of job-search networking is to cultivate relationships to lean on for getting advice, information, leads, and–it is hoped–referrals. The objective is to expand your sphere of personal connections. Certainly, whom you know is important, but in this instance, equally or possibly even more important is who knows you. After all, you’re the one looking for a next job.
Networking is a learned skill. And it’s not necessary to be Mr. or Ms. Personality in order to be successful at it. Networking also involves consulting people who can list the search tools and strategies that have worked for them in past; people like telling their especially success stories. Involve people in building your own search tools. Try to unfold the hidden job market–the positions that have not yet been advertised or that won’t ever be. That’s the reason they’re called hidden.
While networking, be considerate, genuine, and timely so that people will be willing to lend a hand. Smiling–smiling a lot–is very effective while networking. Genial body language coveys that you are friendly and are enjoying your relationship with the other person. Who wants to be associated with a Sorrowful Sue or a Negative Ned? It’s a big enough burden just to be in transition, and others usually don’t want to hear about someone else’s problems. You need to project a friendly and helpful image of yourself: Let the other person talk. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Exchange contact information and agree to follow up within a day or two. Keep the momentum going. By being a good networker, you increase your chances of getting a job several fold.