Like it or not, for now and the future, networking is a critical survival skill.
For some of us, network comes easily.
For the rest of us, networking is not something we enjoy -- awkward conversations with strangers...not comfortable or appealing.
This section of Job-Hunt will help you succeed, and, even, enjoy networking.
Networking has a bad reputation for some who equate networking with "using" people.
But good networking - effective networking - is NOT about "using" anyone.
Effective networking is people helping each other solve problems and succeed. It is a two-way street - always - or it doesn't last, and it is not successful or effective.
Effective networking is catching up with old friends or colleagues, and meeting new people you have something in common with - a location, a skill, a former employer, a fondness for pepperoni pizza, kids the same age, or something else.
We can network in person, as done traditionally, and also online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on) now.
Regardless of the mode you use for your networking, remember that networking is the classic "two-way street." If all you do is ask for help and favors, you will not succeed.
"Give before you get" is excellent networking advice.
The most effect strategy typically is giving assistance more often that you ask for or accept assistance or favors from your network.
Live, in-person networking has been the method people used for making connections for centuries, and it remains the foundation method of networking for most of us.
Leveraging social networks to expand your network is essential today because these networks provide an enormous population of potential network members and a "safe" way to break the ice to connect or reconnect with people.
LinkedIn is the primary professional network, with close to 600 million members. Think of LinkedIn as a very complete online business card. Many people also have large networks on Facebook, which has nearly 2 billion members.
In countless surveys and research, including those conducted by Job-Hunt, networking is the dominant method used by successful job seekers. More than 75% of the time! NOT a job site. NOT an e-mailed resume - at least not initially. NETWORKING!
If you have ever been responsible for hiring someone, you know it is a scary thing to do, particularly if your success -- as well as your job -- depends on the quality of the person YOU choose to hire.
So you approach hiring someone very cautiously:
Finding that person can be challenging. Imagine reading (or, more likely, scanning) hundreds of resumes and applications to find the candidate who can do the job and fit into the organization. Easy? Definitely NOT!
Put yourself on the hiring manager's side of the desk. You have work that needs to be done, and must hire someone good to do that work.
The person will work for you, doing work that is important to your success and reputation.
If you hire someone who doesn't do well, you'll have to work harder to fix what they don't do well, and you'll have to explain to your boss why you picked that less-than-stellar employee, who will now be difficult to fire.
The impact of a "bad hire":
So, with your success and your job on the line, how do you find a good candidate to fill that job?
When the whole process is over, you have two people to choose from:
So, both candidates seem well-qualified and professional.
Because hiring Michelle (known-quantity) appears to be safer than hiring than Louise (the stranger), you would do what everyone else usually does and choose the known-quantity. My bet is that you would hire Michelle, even though she isn't the "perfect" candidate.
And, if Michelle had made as impressive a presentation as Louise, the decision would be easier. Michelle would definitely win.
This is called networking your way into a job!
If you have any questions or issues you'd like covered, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.