Everyone’s doing it, so you probably will too, right? Then do it strategically, so that it helps you and also so that you know just how many people are helping you out. Most of us actually have a very small group of people that we know, and who will help us connect through social networking. I mean the kind of people that you can meet for a coffee or lunch, or invite to your wedding, not just the people that you add to a Friend’s list on facebook or Google circles or Twitter list. You do know that all those programs allow the people with whom you have “connected” to filter out all your updates and never engage with you unless they have something specific to say to you, right?
To start your networking, you need to reach out to your personal inner circle, which is most likely between 20 and 30 people. This group likely has a lot in common with you; they belong to the same groups, talk to the same people, may even work in the same company or the same industry. So, when you put the word out to your inner circle that you are looking for work, expect nothing. Oh you’ll get messages like “good luck” and they’ll hope the best for you, but most of them are probably unable to actually help you. The brilliance of networking doesn’t start until they refer you out of your inner circle, and two, three, or even four layers beyond. That’s right, you need them to refer you out of that circle into other layers. Get Out!
Social networking power, or networking period, kicks in when connectors in your network push you outside of your network, through theirs, and outward. In order to orchestrate this you may also have to be very careful. Most people don’t want their bosses to know when they start looking for a job, and yet the world is very small. If you are using networking of any kind to help you find a job, expect that your boss will know about it at some point. Depending on your relationship with your current employer, you might want to let them know ahead of time…and you may not. Just know that the wider your networking circle becomes, the more likely word will get back to them that you are looking for a job.
Any cynics or agitators in the readership will be saying, hey, I got a job within my inner circle. Great! Glad to hear it! And you need to know that you are the exception and not the norm. I know that it is possible for you to find a job within that first circle of your network, but chances are that it will be very similar to what you or your close friends are doing right now. That’s great if that’s what you are looking for, but not if you are trying to break away from that particular group and move on, or you are looking to grow (in challenges, responsibility, and income). In order to make big changes, you need ask your network to refer you through, or introduce you to people that you need to meet. To set up connections, and then you have to follow up on them. It’s exciting! You can meet some new people, forge new connections, and start something that is new and different than what you were doing before, even if it’s the same job!
People are getting really creative when it comes to using networking in their job search. Make sure you know what kind of work you are looking for, and use the keywords associated with it to get the word out. This seems like a bold as brass kind of move, and it is. You need to establish yourself in the job market and find a job, not join the masses who just wish they could find a job and prefer that it fall in their lap. Look at the potential of some slightly offbeat places, like facebook Marketplace and fan pages, Kijiji, and make sure that you set up a clean, professional profile on LinkedIn. You may not like it, but LinkedIn is a good place for potential employers to search for you. Make sure they can find you, and don’t make it too difficult for them to contact you. Keep all your contact details up to date to avoid disappointment. Most of my recruiting colleagues will only leave one message for a potential candidate, if they come looking for you at all, so you’ve got to be accessible and responsive.
Good luck, and let me know how it goes!