Since it’s your job … or at least part of it … you should feel comfortable and confident using it when you are making a change in job.
In fact, I would argue that it’s never more critical than when you are actively searching for your next job.
Your network becomes you. Utilizing your network is something you earn a right to tap into. The old saying of “the more you give, the more you get” is never more true that when it comes to networking and building your network.
Your Network is your Secret Weapon
Network Use is Not Abuse
It is important to note that just because you tap into your network doesn’t mean you are abusing it.
Using your network is not network abuse. Here are a few tests to see if you are abusing your network. You may be abusing your network if:
You never give anything back
You only take
You don’t respond to requests
You think of it as a one way street
If you are doing any of the above you might be abusing your network.
Pro Tip: Stop! Stop doing these things … now!
But, what if I don’t have a network?
Everyone has a network. You may not think of them like that and they might not think of your like this, but they are out there.
Your network can consist of:
Fraternity and Sorority members
People you have met at Volunteer organizations
These are people you can call upon to ask a question. Even as a simple sanity check. There are different levels of trust and sharing, but generally someone within your network is someone that you can rely upon to provide accurate, timely and sometimes hard to hear advice.
Using Your Network in a Job Search
As you begin looking for a new job … reach out to your network
Another old saying is … “Find a job when you have a job”
While this may seem disingenuous the fact is that you have a lot more flexibility and control when you are looking for your next challenge while you are still employed.
If you are between projects or just not working now you can still tap into your network. If you share (widely or specifically) that you are actively looking this can spring some people into action because they know you aren’t just kicking tires.
Keep a pulse on the job situation. Ask your network or sometimes specific people within your network questions about what’s going on in the industry or with your skill set. Of course, do you own research and have your own opinions. And, of course, share these when you can within the network.
The network only survives and succeeds when people are active and contributing.
Generally, you can ask questions to the network like these to get a feel for what is going on and then you can do a little more digging if something sounds interesting.
What’s happening in the industry?
Who is hiring? (you may want to ask WHY they are hiring)
What shifts are you seeing? (What are the implications?)
Proactively, you can share your interests, passions and areas of expertise and ask more specific questions and provide your guidance back to the network too.
I’m looking to do X – What companies or people should I talk to?
I’ve spent time learning about Y – Where can I apply these skills?
My passions are in Z – How can I make the best use of this?
Specifically, you can and often will want to ask very specific people a set of very specific questions.
I’m looking to get a BizDev role at Microsoft. Can you tell me about the level and the hiring manager?
I see your company is hiring for a Program Manager role – Can you make an introduction to the team leader?
I’m interested in a role in the Amazon marketing department – Would you be willing to be a referral?
Your network may be able to make very specific recommendations and even may be able to make introductions.
If you don’t ask … you won’t know. So, ask!
Rebuild Your Network from the Inside
As you find success in working across your network make sure you repay the favors that were offered to you. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but someday the people that helped you will inevitably need something. When they ask … Jump at the chance to help them.
Together we keep this going. Together we keep our network strong. Together we succeed. Remember …to thank people for their help.
Remember … Use your network (wisely) in a job search.
An old African proverb says:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.