by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need convincing that networking is the most effective job-search strategy. But perhaps you’d like to know how to get the most bang for your networking buck. Want to know the five very best networking strategies? You’ve come to the right place.
- Join professional organizations. When I surveyed job-seekers and career professionals for my book, A Foot in the Door, to ask them which networking venues are most effective, they named professional organizations as, by far, their top choice. When you join and participate in a professional organization related to your current career field or a field you hope to enter, you have the opportunity to meet many people with shared interests and professional aspirations. You can talk to them at meetings, conferences, and social events, as well as become involved in the organization and show off your skills by taking on leadership roles. You will likely have access to a membership directory that provides contact information for many prospective members of your network. Learn more in our article, Fast Track Your Job Search by Networking Through a Professional Association.
- Volunteer. The No. 2 networking venue that survey respondents for my book cited was volunteer opportunities. Volunteering gives you a chance to mingle with like-minded people in a feel-good environment. It’s also an opportunity to develop and demonstrate new skills. Learn more in our article, Volunteering Can Open Doors to a New Career.
- Join or start a job club. Particularly in a difficult economy, a job club can provide significant support. You can network with other members and share ideas on who’s hiring, as well as strategies for your search. Learn more in our article, For Networking and Support, Join or Start a Job Club.
- Participate in online social media — but not at the expense of face-to-face networking. It’s important in today’s job search to maintain a positive online presence so employers and recruiters can find you. Just don’t spend all your time networking online because mingling with warm bodies is far more effective. Consider implementing Hansen’s Online Social-Media Formula:
- Your own Website with your name as its domain name or a LinkedIn profile
- Facebook profile
- Twitter presence
- LinkedIn profile (if you don’t already have one as a substitute for your own Web site)
- a presence on up to three more social-media venues, such as niche networking sites related to your profession and online discussion boards or e-mail groups about common professional interests.
For tips on making the most of your social-media presence, read our article Five Strategies for Leveraging Your Online Social Networks.
- Conduct informational interviews. While informational interviews are especially the province of college students and new graduates, established job-seekers also can deploy them with great success. Informational interviews are a subset of networking because your interviewees become valuable network contacts who are invested in your success. Learn how to conduct informational interviews with our Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
Networking is a big subject encompassing numerous techniques and approaches (see our networking section), but if you do nothing more than implement the five career networking strategies and tactics in this article, your networking efforts should continue to flourish and grow.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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