You know what they say – “It’s who you know, not what you know“. While I’m not so sure the second half of the statement is true these days, the first half of the statement is definitely true. Your network of friends, family and acquaintances is by far your single largest asset. While many people worry that “leveraging your network” means you will need to “cold call” your friends and relatives and ask them to help you get a new job, this is not the case.
The Internet, combined with your Network, makes for a very powerful tool in your job search. Knowing how best to leverage this tool is not always obvious, but if you know what to look for it is quite easy to do. And then, of course, there is your extended network. Before the Internet, it was difficult at best to know who was in your extended network. With sites such as LinkedIn, your extended network is immediately known.
- Build Your Networks to Suit Your Needs: In order for Social Networks to have any benefit in your job search, you need to build them in a way that complements your professional background. Search out former colleagues that you’ve worked with and add them to your network. Don’t limit this to “employees”, also look to add consultants you’ve worked with as well. But wait, don’t stop there. Also add former college classmates and friends to further build out your network.
Search out former colleagues that you’ve worked with and add them to your network.
- Leverage Social Network Sites: The number one site for networking in your job search is, of course, LinkedIn.com. If you are not already a member, now is the time to join (and it is free). Enter your career profile, skills and add your links. Once you’ve entered the basic information, LinkedIn will help you find additional links. Once your profile is up, you and your experience becomes searchable by others (this is a great way to be “found” by others looking to hire). When you identify a lead, use LinkedIn to see who in your network is either working at your target company or who in your network may be linked to someone who can help you.
People stay connected to former schools so the depth of experience and connections in your alumni association is likely to be large and deep.
- Leverage Professional Associations: In case you don’t know, Professional Associations are a type of social network that links members based on expertise or functional experience, such as accounting, engineering, etc. There are professional networks for just about everything and most of these will have websites where you can leverage your contacts and make new ones.
- Leverage Alumni Networks: Your college or university is one of the best resources you have (yes, even after you graduate) and your Alumni association is a powerful tool as you can leverage not only your graduating class, but all of the graduating classes. People stay connected to former schools so the depth of experience and connections in your alumni association is likely to be large and deep.
- Join Several Networks: There are so many social networks out there, and LinkedIn is not the only site you can leverage in your job search. You will want to be selective and limit the number of social networks you work with as well as the content. Do some research before you join and ask some of your friends as well. You should designate several social networks as your “job search networks” and only post work related information and (generally) no pictures.
Good luck in your search.
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