Tell Me About Networking

When you are looking for a job, networking can be a great way of seeking out new opportunities for yourself.  Despite the many thousands of jobs you may see advertised, research indicates that the majority of jobs (perhaps 75%) are never advertised. Instead, these roles are filled by people already knowing someone that they want to fill the role or by people asking around their network to see if there is anyone that someone would recommend for a certain job, task or project.

These days, with people changing jobs more frequently than they once did, keeping in touch with your network has never been more important.

So what is a network and how should you build, develop and manage your relationship with your network?

Put simply, a network is people that you know who also know you. These might be your friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, people you know from your local community, in fact anyone with who you have some sort of relationship or association.

It can be helpful to ‘map out’ your network on a large piece of paper to see the areas of your life where you might have, or could develop, a potentially profitable relationship with people. And I don’t mean profitable solely in financial terms here but this could also mean ‘profitable’ in the sense of personal growth, well-being or some area of your life you are looking to develop.

However, in terms of job-seeking, if you suddenly go up to somebody and say ‘Can you give me a job?’ it would be quite unusual and would not be likely to be met with success. This is because your relationship with that person (like any relationship) needs to be built over time and should be nurtured regularly to maximise your chances of success. To do this, you would keep in touch (how regularly depends on the circumstances) and develop a friendly relationship with them. Then, when the need arises and providing you have built up a good relationship with them, they would be more likely to listen to your request for help and perhaps recommend you to people within their network who could assist you.

The same conditions apply if you are using some form of social media to develop your network. There is a wide variety of possible avenues out there and so, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or simply commenting on discussion in groups in which you are a member, you should always do it with the long-term view of building a good relationship with people.

You should look to build relationships with people over a period of time before asking for help. If you ask straight away, you could come across as ‘needy’ and this can put people off building and developing a relationship with you.

Imagine that you had a friend that you had known for a long period of time. You knew and liked them because you had built a relationship over a number of months or years. If they suddenly came to you and asked for help, wouldn’t you do everything you could to help them? The same is true in your job search.

However, when the time comes, you will need to be prepared and to do this you need a couple more tools that will help you.

The first of these is a CV or Curriculum Vitae. This will lay out your key accomplishments, achievements and experience (see our CV page for more on this) and you will need to have this ready in case the contact in your network says “Sure I’ll help. Send me your CV”. You don’t want to scrabbling around getting your CV together under pressure because it needs to make a great first impression otherwise you could progress no further with that contact.

The second tool that could be useful to you is what is commonly referred to as ‘an elevator pitch’. Drawn from the world of business, this is simply a short presentation of your key skills and the experience that you could offer to somebody who you were seeking to employ you, if you were in an elevator (or lift) with them for 30 seconds. If, in response to your request for help, somebody said “Sure, tell me a little about yourself” – what would you say?

Unless you have something prepared or, at least, have thought about this possibility before you might find yourself stuttering and stammering while you try to find the right form of words that are going to present you in the best possible light; this is a potential employer after all! Far better to have thought carefully about your best attributes, what skills you have to offer and what you are looking for in advance than doing it on the spot.

Helpful Resources