Brad’s Thoughts on Networking

networking rolodex

I once wrote that I didn’t like the term “networking”. I thought the practice was self-serving and deceitful. That is until I learned how to network. I learned to reach out to people that I wanted to know, explain why I was contacting them and making them feel good by helping me. People like to help.

I’m convinced there isn’t one way to network. Some people just have a gift; they can walk into a room or pick up a phone and be chatting away in a New York minute. Others, me included, need some time to get going. The only wrong way to network is to make it about you.
While some say that 70% of all jobs are found by networking, I don’t put much faith in that number. All jobs are found by a combination of hard work, strategic thinking and usually some luck. Some are found through networking, some through recruiters and some through job postings.
If I found myself without a network and in a job search here are my thoughts on how I’d start.

Everyone has a network, they just don’t view it that way.
I would start by writing a list of everyone I know, worked with, purchased from, attended conferences with, attended college with, etc. I don’t care if I haven’t spoken with them in 10 or more years. You’ll be surprised how large of a list that is.
Now imagine if each of those people know 3 people that might be able to get me further down the path to employment.

How you approach people is important.
I’d call them up or email them and explain that I’m job hunting and looking to network with people that they know that might be helpful. I’d have some helpful tips to get their mind thinking.
Such as…”I’ve been a Director of IT for a Mid-Sized bank the last 4 years, do you know anyone in the financial services world?” or “I’m exploring project management in the CPG area, do you know anyone at companies like…..?”
Give them a chance to help you by helping them to understand who you are, what you are looking for and what you can offer.

I wouldn’t send them a resume.
You want to control who gets your resume and how it is passed along so hold onto it. Just ask for names and ways to contact the person. It doesn’t matter if the person at P & G isn’t in HR, they probably know someone that is. Then you reach out to them. Tell them that “Susie” recommend you talk with them. Ask them about what they do, why they love the company and after that, tell them the same thing you told your friend and ask who they know, both at their company and other places. Ask them who the competition is so that you can build your own target list.

I’d find the people doing the job I want.
If I want a Sr. Financial Analyst position at a Fortune 100 company, I’d use tools such as LinkedIn to find everyone doing that job and I’d reach out to them in much the same fashion. I’d ask if there are openings in their company or if they have heard of any at the competition. I’d also ask if they know any “great” recruiters that specialize in their area.
More next Tuesday.

About the Author

Brad Attig has 12 years of talent acquisition experience including 4 years working with high level executives crafting personal job search strategies and 8 years of recruiting for a top boutique retail recruitment firm.