Your network consists of people who might be able to help, some of whom you’ll seek out and others you’ll meet by chance. This core group should lead to contacts with people in your field of choice, who in turn may lead to potential employers. Who to include in your network:
- A coworker whom you have sought out as a mentor or who has moved on to another job in your field of interest.
- A boss whom you admire for his honesty, the way he deals with people, and his ability to get the work done.
- A client with whom you have developed a strong relationship and who knows your capabilities from working with you.
- A friend who is successful and respected for her business skill.
Do stay in touch, but not so often that you become a nuisance. Some unobtrusive ways to remain in contact are to mail an interesting or helpful article, call to report news about a mutual friend, or offer to treat you job-search adviser to lunch.
Networking isn’t a process you use only when actively searching for a job. Work on building and communicating with your network on an ongoing basis. Then, when you suddenly find yourself in the job market or in need of professional adivce, your team will be ready to help. If you receive an offer of help, listen closely so that you’ll fully understand what is being offered. Once you know how the contact can help you should:
- Decide which materials give the best overall picture of your life experience and work history in relation to the offer of help and send that information to your contact.
- Determine how often you may call the contact to follow up.
Be sure not to overdo your networking. Avoid the following missteps:
- Being a fair-weather friend who gets in touch only when he needs something.
- Pestering your contacts with frequent calls or emails.
- Constantly bragging about your connections.
- Forgetting to bring a business card with you.
- Failing to get back to someone with periodic updates.
- Forgetting a follow-up and thank-you at the end of your search.
Handle your networking with care. The better you pace your communications and balance self-confidence with humility, the more likely you are to get results.