Many job seekers say they hate the networking part of the job search. Apparently, those job seekers would rather spend (no, waste) time comfortably clicking on the “Apply” button on postings they find on job boards.
But networking is easier, less scary and more natural (in terms of simple conversations) than you think! And that is just one of three bad assumptions many job seekers make about networking:
1. Networking is Hard Work
No, networking is not “hard work.” Or if it is, it is time for a new approach or mindset.
Networking should be about seeing people you like and connecting with people from your past as well as your current life. It should be about meeting people you have something in common with: a current or former employer, a school, a hobby or some other interest, a town or even a neighborhood, a cause, a religion, etc.
With that in mind, think perhaps in terms of “socializing” rather than “networking.” Meet for coffee, lunch, a drink, movies, jogging, running, dancing, singing, joining, working… or just catching up with old friends. What’s happening? How and what are they doing? What’s new with them? Anything you can help them with – and vice versa?
Done right… networking is often fun.
2. Networking Means Large Rooms Full of Strangers
This assumption is true only if you choose to attend the kind of events that are in large rooms full of strangers. If you prefer – and most of us do – networking can be done one-on-one or in smaller groups, often with people you already know or want to know.
As someone who is basically shy, I prefer the smaller groups with a mix of “new” and “old” friends as both more comfortable and more interesting. The networking accomplished in those situations is amazing!
3. Networking is “Using” People
I wish I had a nickel for every job seeker who said this to me, and it is SO wrong!
If you view networking as “using” people, you are networking the wrong way. Networking shouldn’t be focused on WIIFM (“What’s in it for me!). To be genuine and effective, networking needs to be focused on being helpful to others, rather than using them. Make that introduction (if appropriate). Share information. Ask for opinions. And, yes, ask for help, too.
Yes, hopefully, people will help you but not because you have tricked them or coerced them to do it. That would be “using” them. Resist “keeping score” but do notice if someone is all “take” and no “give.” That is also “using” – using you!
Assumptions about networking are abundant. But with up to 80% of new jobs coming as a direct result of networking, job seekers must ignore the assumptions, myths and lies. You must dig in. You must expand your comfort zones. And you must network!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com; Susan has been editor and publisher since. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorgand on Google+.