Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Many fear networking or judge it, thinking that networking is equivalent to brown nosing. Simply put, networking is the art of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships to achieve professional goals.
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General consensus and research shows that the serious unemployment we are experiencing will lag 12-18 months behind any economic recovery. What's more, 60-80 percent of all jobs are filled through networking, inside contact and word of mouth. It is through networking contacts that you will hear about the hidden job market, which, are jobs that are filled without ever being publicized, especially in an economy where new jobs are few. You need to have a way to hear about jobs that are being filled due to attrition before they are ever advertised. Consider that in this job market your network is your net worth. Networking is one of the most critical aspects of both managing your career and searching for new work.

Many fear networking or judge it, thinking that networking is equivalent to brown nosing. Simply put, networking is the art of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships to support the achievement of professional goals. Ultimately, networking in regards to your job search means making human contact with people who may be in a position to help you. If 80 percent of individuals are landing their next opportunities through someone they know than I encourage you to generate the courage to take some of the bold action outlined here. It may feel a little scary, but strategic action and calculated risk will help bring your desire to get back to work with more velocity than otherwise may be possible.

Ideally, you are networking long before you are ever in a job search. When I was engaged as a recruiting consultant for major corporate organizations I often left executive meetings stunned, because, responses to my consistent question to executive hiring managers, "Who's in your network I can engage with that could help identify candidates for this opening?" was frequently met with a blank stare. Whether you are an entry level employee or an executive who is fully employed, under-employed, or unemployed you want to be building and maintaining your network consistently as a way to enhance career management and job searching. If you wait for your pink slip you've missed the boat. Key places for networking in person include:

Career History

I encourage you to start your networking by going through your career history and reactivating significant relationships, particularly with people who could help you with your job search. One way to reduce any potential awkwardness with re-introductions is to find these people online and invite them to join your online networks. That's a great launchpad for reactivating the relationship.

Professional organizations
Join yours, and begin to attend local chapter meetings, a web resource that has a comprehensive list of professional associations is

Attend industry and Career related Conferences

Join Social Organizations and attend events and fundraisers

There are also unemployment support networking groups that have cropped all over during our recent economic challenges, like you can also go to to find events and support.

Alumni, professors, or fellow students at your School or university are all part of your network.

Key places to network online include (also see my article: Job Hunting in the Web 2.0 Jungle), as a matter of fact if you don't have a linkedin account, start one as soon as you finish reading this article.

Here are some key things to know on your way to becoming a savvy networker:

First: Know what you want and where you are headed?

•Before you attend a networking event or even create a profile. Ask yourself:

"How do I want to be perceived professionally at this point in my career and where am I headed?" or "Do I want advice or do I want to be invited to speak at the Association's next event?" This will help direct your focus on how you want to present yourself, what kind of networking or professional organizations to become involved with and even who to make contact with in the organization.

•Before attending any networking event develop a short 30 second description that powerfully states who you are, what you do and who you serve.

•In the age of online networking it's still important to actually meet in person whenever possible. For example, if you meet someone online who lives locally, that you feel would be a valuable part of your network, invite them for coffee or lunch

•Or if someone you would like to have as part of your network is giving a presentation. Go to it. Ask a good question, and consider introducing yourself when the presentation is complete. Most presenters make themselves available to speak with immediately following a presentation.

•Don't go to a networking event to ask for anything! No one likes to feel as if your sole interest in them is because they can do something for you. Initially, make networking contacts without expectations. Your initial goal is to connect and share information. If you have something to offer then provide them with that offering. Always ask questions like, "How can I help you? How do I know who to refer to you?" Your networking involves a sincere desire to help others. Just like any relationship, relationships with the people in your network develop over time. As your relationships grow people will be very interested in doing what they can to help you with your job search. I encourage you to let people know that you are in the job market, but I reiterate, don't let the first thing out of your mouth be, "Hi, My name is ________ Can you give me a job?" Of course if you are at a networking event specifically for people looking for work, be prepared to share what you are looking for and to offer leads to others if you have them.

•Make sure you follow up and stay in contact with the people you meet. One easy way to maintain contact with your network is to allow your in person networking and online social networking to cross over. After a professional event, in which you have collected business cards of people you want to stay in contact with put them in one of the following categories:

Job Referral Source
Company Contact where there may be a position
Potential Mentor
Potential Business Partner
Potential Friend

Then go to your facebook or linkedin profile and send them a message, letting them know you appreciated meeting them, that you would like stay in touch and to please accept your invite to join your online network.

If You Get Help Say Thanks
When you access your network for help, and get a positive response, say "thank you." Say it more than once, and then say it again. Business leaders are willing to offer time and support when called upon, and they appreciate hearing that the support they've offered actually helped. Too many people get what they want and disappear. Don't be one of those people.

Networking is about making mutually beneficial connections in which you give as much as you get , in relationships that develop over time. It is a part of human nature to help each other in situations where we feel valued and can sincerely make a difference. People do want to help! Your network is critical to the success of your job search. Take one small step today to get yours activated.

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