If published statistics are accurate, employment agencies and search firms fill about 20% of all jobs in the US. Job boards fill anywhere between 2% and 8%. So how do the others get filled?
Networking consistently fills more jobs than any other method. Yet people often don’t know how to network well or only act in crisis (I need a job now!) Networking when you don’t need a job will help you cultivate relationships that will help you find work.
Here’s what to do.
1. Develop an elevator speech. If you’re not familiar with the term, an elevator speech is a 30 second synopsis of you experience that you want people to remember about you. It needs to be delivered with enthusiasm, as an actor or actress might. Every single time.
2. Cultivate your network of relationships. Tap into your existing relationships-friends, family, former colleagues, people you know. Just let them know you’re looking for work and ask them if they might know someone in your field who might be able to give you advice. Ask each person you are referred to for at least 3 referrals. Create a snowball effect.
3. Participate in trade groups. The “mega-functions” are harder to be successful in than smaller ones. The more targeted the group, often the better. Get involved. Join committees. Let people get to know you through your contributions. Ask for support.
4. Help others. I’m sure you’ve the phrase, “give more, get more.” Help others and things will come back to you. Contribute to others and their successful search. This can also occur when you genuinely listen to others and their professional needs and offer assistance. There is advice that you will receive by supporting others, ideas that will emerge from helping others work through their problems and opportunities that will be afforded to you through listening.
5. Focus on creating a great impression and asking for support. If all you do is ask for a job, a lot of doors will be slammed in your face. If you focus on creating a great impression, rest assured that when you are in front of someone who needs you, they will be smart enough to see the fit.
6. Cultivate your relationships. Like dating and good marriages, relationships take time to develop and blossom. Don’t expect instant results. Send thank you notes (www.hallmark.com and other online greeting card sites will help you keep the cost low or free), a quick email or a periodic phone call to stay in contact.
7. Follow through. Act on all the leads you receive. If you promise to do something, do it when you say you will do it. Imagine what it is like for the other person who is trying to help you, who may have even alerted the other person to a phone call and then not have it acted upon.
Take the time to network, ideally when you are working and don’t necessarily need a job. The investment will be worth your time.
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