Networking is the most effective way of finding a job. However, some people are more successful with it than others. If you are going to include it in your job search strategy (and you should), make sure that you are not making these common mistakes:
Doing most of your networking by email. If the majority of your networking is done with you in your pajamas sitting in front of your computer, then it is time to step it up. Networking is much more effective when it is done in person. People are more willing to take a chance on you when you are standing right in front of them. So turn off your computer, get outside and shake some hands.
Not making networking a priority. Many job seekers plan to do their networking “when they get around to it”. In most cases, they never do. Networking should be your top priority and it should definitely come before submitting applications online. Since the progress you make with networking may not be immediately visible, it can easily feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. However, if you stick with it, networking will bring you more results than any other job search strategy.
Not giving to your network. How do the people in your network benefit from knowing you? If they don’t, then you had better fix that…fast. Many job seekers get so focused on what they receive from their network that they don’t even think about what they are giving to it. Make an effort to help your contacts in any way you that you can: refer customers to their business, let them know about potential opportunities, and always be the first one to jump in to lend them a hand. When you make an effort to help others, you’ll find that they are always there for you when you need them.
Not following up. Whenever someone in your network gives you a potential job lead, it is essential that you follow up with it. If you don’t, it tells your contact that you don’t really value their opinion. If you aren’t interested in the position, still follow up and let your contact know why it’s not a good match. Also, never forget to say thank you. The assistance that you get from your network is priceless; show them that you appreciate it.
In today’s tough job market, you need every advantage that you can get. A vibrant network is like diamonds to a job seeker; nothing else can replace it. Be sure to build on your network every day and do what you can to nurture it.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)