The best jobs are never found through an online application process. The better jobs are never posted. They are acquired through person-to-person networking. Some good jobs are created because a person with a unique skill set becomes available.
While it is important to have an up to date résumé, it is secondary during the networking process. A résumé can even be limiting, because often the jobs available are dissimilar from the ones you have had in the past.
Here are a few networking “how to’s”:
- Ask family and friends to introduce you to 20 to 40 influential people whom they believe would be helpful for you to meet. Get them to call these people and ask them to meet with you for 20 to 30 minutes. Tell them you will NOT be asking them for a job. Make sure you have the correct contact information for the people recommended.
- The goal is to meet with as many influential people as possible during a 90-day-period–up to 90 people if possible. In order to accomplish this you will have to work the search process like a job.
- Call the people recommended to you and ask for a 20 to 30 minute appointment.
- Prepare for the meetings in advance. Find out everything you can know about the people you will be meeting. Use of word of mouth and online resources. If their company has a website, memorize relevant facts such as their mission statement and core values. Knowing this information will demonstrate that you are a thorough person who is actually interested in what these people do.
- Dress appropriately. There is an old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
- Be punctual. Be on time and do not stay longer than the allotted time.
- Take a small gift as a token of appreciation. It is hard not to like someone who has given you a gift.
- Be in charge of the meeting:
- Look them in the eye; smile warmly; shake their hand firmly; thank them for their time.
- Tell them that the people you know and love have great respect for them.
- Tell them why you asked for the meeting. Begin with the four magic words: “I NEED YOUR HELP.” Tell them you would like their help in thinking about new career ideas and possibilities.
- Tell them something about your background, but talk mainly about your work ethic, your values, your positive qualities, your unique abilities, and your special interests.
- Try not to discuss salary needs. That could limit the discussion and their thinking. Some people will consider your number unreasonably high. Others will think it is too low and think less of you. Tell them instead that you want a vocational opportunity with a promising future.
- Do not mention any scheduling limitations you might have. Do not mention anything that will restrict their possibility thinking.
- Brainstorm with them about job possibilities. Offer to meet with them again if they think it would be helpful. Ask them to let you know the outcome of their contemplation. Give them a card with your contact information printed on it.
- Ask them to suggest two or three other people that they think it might be helpful for you to meet. Remind them that you will keep these persons only 20 to 30 minutes, and that you will not be asking them for a job. What you need is their knowledge and wisdom about vocational opportunities. Ask them if they will call the people in advance and tell them they will be getting a phone call from you asking for an appointment.
- Write everyone with whom you meet a legible, hand-written, hand stamped, snail-mailed note thanking them for their time and help. People get many texts and email, but they get very few posted notes of appreciation.
- Call everyone you meet within two weeks of the appointment, thanking them again, and asking them if they have thought of any other job opportunities or people you should meet.