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Networking for Your Job Search, Career and Business

10-10-10- Everybody has connections. Are you using your connections?

How tight is your network? A lot of us look only towards job opportunities and advertisements in the traditional media. This is reflected in findings of the 2009 Job Search Survey  which indicates that only 15% of respondents believe that the lack of a personal support network of friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances is a significant barrier to job search success. 

What an irony. But how effective can our job search be without connecting with people?

Are we perhaps taking people networks for granted? Yet, 85% of opportunities come from personal networking not through newspaper or online adverts.

Who knows you is more important than who you know. People find work opportunities through connections and conversations with other people - sometimes formally, sometimes informally.

A mistake many make is in looking for job opportunities only through formal and traditional means. Use your connections!

 

 

How effectively do you use your personal network of friends, family and acquaintances?

What about your social or religious clubs or associations? Do you even recognize that you have a network? Without awareness, are you building or shrinking your network? What does your network know you for? It is people that will recommend you to others, not your certificates. Thinking only of today? Stop underestimating the power of people. Just a phone call can make a difference in a career; in a life.

So how are you using your connections? Does your network work for you? Where do your family and friends work? Do they need IT professionals? Do they know of organizations that need IT staff? Are members of your network aware of your job preferences and capabilities? You can also get creative. While searching you could become the “go-to” computer support person or consultant for your friends, family and acquaintances. You are helping and could be giving them a better idea of what you have to offer. And you are in addition gaining some useful experience.



It should be obvious that a reliable and powerful personal network doesn't work for you alone.

 

It isn't a self-centered show. The key to having a dependable personal network that works is not "receive only" or "give to receive". Instead of being the “downloader of the year” it is best to "give more than you receive." Help others with your ideas, suggestions and viewpoints. You see association is not enough. People will connect and engage with those they know, like and trust. You should create and foster an effective network of contacts that sells you because you are a resource. Does your brand sell within your network? You can only use your previous connections if you don't leave bad blood on your trail.



Unfortunately, we sometimes burn bridges we may need tomorrow.

 

Make the right connections. At a job selection exercise sometime ago, a candidate was disrespectful because as he told other candidates, “I show no respect because this company can't meet my needs”. He is living an illusion. Surprisingly he is not alone. Choosing when to be civil can't help your career because you're branding yourself all the time. The ill mannered brand is an undesirable one.

If you built the right bridges while learning you may find your lecturers and instructors, and even former classmates could be of assistance in view of their own relationships with industry and other communities. Leverage on your networks and relationships to get a start.
 


Note however that networking should not be restricted to the domain of educational and personal relationships.

 

What if you're in a new location without family and friends or the usual networking contacts? Grow your network by planting yourself in your circles of interest. For example do you attend industry events? Which social, charitable and faith based causes do you support? It may not be straightforward but be entrepreneurial by getting yourself out there.

 

Use events, meetings to share knowledge, arrange follow up on ideas, etc. You are a newcomer, but nothing stops you from offering to serve as a volunteer, contact person, writer, blogger, researcher in your area of expertise. When you serve with passion you will capture the attention of people in these communities. It is no wonder that internships have always assisted in gaining necessary eye opening experience and building networks that can come in handy in future.

Networking in the right circles helps you to gain insider information to boost your job search strategy. Start building those connections now. Do your research, be proactive, enthusiastic and genuine. Being helper, a contributor will certainly expand your network. Understand and believe in the cause rather than only in what you can get.
 


Furthermore, there is no special place or time to get yourself out there.

 

Never make the mistake of thinking networking is restricted to events and relationships. Network all the time. Don't underestimate unplanned, chance encounters. Take advantage of the law of unintended consequences. You never know what a conversation may bring. Connect with people on the street, in the class, bus, shop and restaurant, on the job, at play, with acquaintances, etc. There is no special place.
 


Go virtual - don't neglect the online world.

 

Establish networks on two spheres - physical and online. Newcomers shouldn't ignore the social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. Since they are accessible use them with purpose to connect with others and carve a niche for yourself. There is no magic key involved. Simply be genuine, get involved, engage, help others and look out for your interests. Social networks are just an additional tool in the mix.

Networking is a great tool but never forget that you are the networker.

 

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com (http://www.jidaw.com)

MORE ...For more coverage and information related to IT Career Development head to the IT Career Resource

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