How can I get more out of my network?
The Career Doctor* responds:
To answer the question of how you can best leverage your contacts during your job search we must first tackle a few other questions:
Question 1: What are you trying to get from your contacts?
A network is important not because of what you can get from your contacts but because of who and what they can introduce you to.
Once you are clear about the job you are seeking the sort of boss you are looking for and the culture of the organisation you want to join a contact who knows you well – and whom you know – can often surprise you. They may make a suggestion that will unlock a whole new set of options for you. They may know exactly the person you have to speak to in order to get to a job role potentially ideal for you.
To get into this position you have to work hard to really get to know your contacts.
Successful networking is about connecting with your network not growing it obsessively.
Question 2: How well do you know your contacts?
Many people believe networking is about collecting a mass of contacts but in truth this is not a useful way to look at your contacts.
What’s valuable is how well connected you are to your contacts. The tighter and more personal the bond between you the more valuable it is.
So instead of collecting ever more business cards we should take more of an interest in those people we already know. Who are they? What are they interested in what’s their educational history their quirks? Do you know their family where they live?
It is only by being curious about the detail of people’s lives that you can begin to have a useful and valuable connection.
Can you pick up the phone at any time ask one of your contacts almost anything and get some sort of positive response? If not you do not have a close enough relationship with them and they are not a useful contact. They are merely someone else in your database.
Question 3: What is your message to your contacts?
If you treat your contacts like scalps or notches on the bed post the message to your contacts is that you do not value them highly.
Instead of that try to treat your contacts as potential allies. Try to nurture them and aid them. To really get to know what they want not just tell them what you want. Ideally your message to them is that you are there to support and help them.
Once you are treating them this way they will respond in kind.
*Today’s guest Career Doctor is Nisa Chitakasem founder of Position Ignition — a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career making a career change figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions.