It’s no secret that job seekers with a strong professional network are much likely to get hired than those without. Various studies have shown that a remarkably high number of individuals are hired through networking. That network is a hidden job market – one where the best jobs go unadvertised, and the hiring manager relies on connections to help her find the right applicant.
Despite its importance, many people – like me, for example, find networking difficult at best, and disingenuous at worst. Schmoozing one’s way through meet ‘n’ greets and swapping business cards with equally desperate job seekers leaves little to be desired.
In his book, Never eat alone: And other secrets to success, one relationship at a time, author Keith Ferrazzi claims that building a professional network doesn’t have to be difficult – and when done right, networking should be an activity that benefits everyone involved.
Here are a few key principles that he suggests you should follow when looking to expand your network:
Ask not what others can do for you
Don’t focus on what people can do for you, focus instead on the value you can offer others. By being helpful to other professionals in your peer group (and beyond), you not only prove that you have valuable skills, you also generate goodwill. To be clear: don’t keep track of who has done what for whom; reciprocity isn’t the goal. Simply focus on helping other people as often as you can.
Always follow up
When you meet someone new, always follow up with them, ideally 12 to 24 hours afterward. Even a quick email can be the key to getting another meeting with them. It’s best if the follow-up references some part of the conversation you had (to help jog their memory) – and remember, the focus should always be on how you can provide value.
Ping, poke and prod people!
Quick: look through your current LinkedIn connections list. How many people are you connected with that you haven’t talked to in years? At the very least, Ferrazzi argues, you should be looking to reach out to everyone in your network two or three times a year. Even if it’s only to send a short email sharing an interesting article, or just a quick note to say hi, you should always take the time to regularly connect with everyone in your network.
building a professional network doesn’t have to be difficult: it should be an activity that benefits everyone involved.
The common theme throughout the book is that networking isn’t a selfish pursuit that you should undertake because of the career benefits that may follow. Networking is something that you should pursue because it gives you the opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of a number of people, providing value and helping your fellow professional. The simple act of doing good on a regular basis will be its own reward.
Read more about Keith Ferrazzi at his blog.
Need more job hunting advice or networking tips? Check out this article on how to land your dream job and other great articles on the Fresh Gigs blog!