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Develop and implement a career networking strategy

 

Part 2 - Continued from   How To Find A Job Through Networking

A step- by- step process on how to develop a career network plan

In the previous section networking to find jobs has been explained. It is  a very successful strategy that has worked for hundreds of years. This section shows you how to network using a step by step process.

What is my network I hear you ask? If you haven't read the previous section your network consists of  people you know from every aspect of your life both social and professional. Facebook, for example, has expanded the number of people in your social network.

Networking to find a job does not mean asking people outright for a job. The aim is to ask people in your network for advice, knowledge of a particular industry and leads.

The reason for developing a network plan is to target areas of employment that offer you security and job satisfaction. You can "wing it" but you may find yourself in a job that is not secure and you do not like. You need to target your network strategy.

Develop your networking list

The first step in to write a list of people in you know. This will assist you to recognise people in your network by placing them into categories has been discussed in  part 1.

 

When you have brain stormed the categories of people you can contact, make a list of individuals in each of these categories. Your network list will gradually expand as you become more confident:  Keep good records.

  • Don’t forget, people in your network also have a network of friends, family, neighbours, former colleagues and supervisors.  

  • People you meet casually have friends who may have knowledge that can help you.

  • You do need to guide them to see that they do have a lot of people within their own network, by framing your approach in the right way. We will discuss this later. 

The reluctance to use networking to find jobs, is generally because job seekers are not considering their network in a broader context. Most people say, “the people I know can’t help me”. That may be true, however, what if someone contacted you for advice would you try and give them ideas?  You may not know anything, but maybe you know someone that can help.

Before you start to contact people you have identified from your networking list, you need to be clear on what information you want from them.  What is your objective? The information below will help you.

Plan your career network strategy.

Prepare for a phone contact

 Ø      You need to prepare what you are going to say - pen and paper ready.

Ø      If phoning a person at work, ask if is convenient to speak – say you will only be a few minutes. Don’t be evasive. Say you want their advice.  Be prepared to ring back at a more convenient time. Keep your diary handy.

Ø      Introduce yourself within the context of your relationship (i.e. I used to work with you at Woolworths). Engage in a bit of small talk and then get to the point of your call.

Ø      Don’t ask for a job or even hint that you expect them to refer you to a job.    

Ø      Be honest and say that you are now unemployed (or have been retrenched) and ask them if they have any suggestions of which companies (or where) you can try. Also ask if they have any contacts in your line of work that may know about your industry.  If re-entering employment or changing career direction you may also ask them to look at your resume and suggest possible career areas you may not have thought about. Other people can often identify areas of employment you hadn't identified.

 Ø    Another useful networking approach is to say that you are just doing some job search planning. For example, you may say

  • You may not know that I have been out of work for a period and I have been looking for work. I just want to know if you know anything about what is happening in the Oil and Gas Industry at the moment?  or

  • Do you know of any projects coming up?” 

    Or you may say,

  • Do you know anyone in the field I could talk to about career opportunities in the oil and gas industry?"

These are just a couple of examples.  It may be the building Industry or any other identified field.  Don’t forget to remind them of your occupation and qualifications

Ø      Your approach will depend upon the area of work you are looking for. For example, in you last job you may have dealt with suppliers.These people are a great career networking source.  Contact them, because they get to know if a company they sell to or have a service contract with has a job opening, or know who has won a contract for work in your field.

Ø     When you are speaking to people over the phone or in person, Listen carefully to what is being said and make notes. Use active listening skills, i.e. say “yes” “ I understand”  “ok” or  “ah- huh”. Naturally you will have your own style of active listening.

 Ø      If given a contact name, confirm details carefully. You won’t get a second chance.

 Ø    Thank them for their advice and say “If you do hear of anything can you let me know?” Give your contact details. This approach will allow them to think it over. They may ring you later to let you know about a job.   

Ø      Always follow up as soon as possible and make a record of your contact outlining your discussion. You will forget. If you get a positive lead don’t forget to thank the person who referred you and advise them of the outcome.

Good record keeping is crucial.  

Approaching people who you have been referred to by someone in your career network

(A) Approach by phone

 

 ·         Introduce yourself. Say who referred you or who suggested you ring.

 ·        Ask if they have a minute.

 ·         Depending upon response, state briefly that John/Jill thought you

       might know what was happening in the X industry, for example.

 ·         Let them know what skills you have.

 ·         Ask them if they know anyone else who might be able to provide you

       with information. Ask if you can use their name as a referral.

(B) Approach by letter

The aim of a referral letter is to gain a face-to-face meeting.  In order to do this you must ask for a meeting and you must be clear on the information you expect to be supplied.  The following example is aimed at gaining information about what is happening in a specific industry.

  • Ring to check the address of the organisation and title or role of the person you wish to speak to.  I have many examples where a company moved premises although the number remained the same, or had been diverted and the jobseeker went to the wrong address. Your contact may have outdated information and/or they may still be listed at the same address and have moved within the same area.

  • Be clear on your objective. It may be that your objective is to find out what skills are needed in particular job, or you may be wanting a career change and want to know more about a specific industry. Whatever your needs you must be must be clear on what you want from the contact and your contact must also know what you want.

Examples of networking opening statements - phone and letter

Make reference to the person who referred you (you must gain permission for this)

 e.g. “John James suggested I contact you.  He said you had a very good knowledge of the mining industry and generally know what is happening.”

 State briefly your occupation and the type of work you are looking for.

 “I am a Plant Maintenance Engineer and have just completed a contract with Western Mining” and I want to go back on site.  John said you would probably know what projects are coming up.”

Ask for a face-to-face meeting

  • "I would like to meet with you soon. I will appreciate 15 minutes of your  time".

  • "I will give you a ring early next week and arrange a convenient time to meet.  Your advice will be appreciated and I look forward to meeting you".

  • Ensure you follow within about 2-3 days of the letter arriving.  You may however, have difficulty getting to the person and may have a problem getting past the Receptionist/Telephonist. 

  • Do not leave a message. Say that the person you want to speak to is expecting your call. 

  • When you reach your contact suggest some possible dates.  Don’t just say “anytime”.

  • The sales approach nearly always works. “What day Tuesday or Thursday”, get a day and then say “morning or afternoon.”

See cold calling letters that can be used for career networking in sample job applications and links below.

Meeting face to face  

You have the meeting and you know your objective. Be prepared for this interview and have questions ready. Be prepared to take notes.  

However, a face-to-face interview can lead to more than just information.  If the person likes you he/she may refer you to a job at a later date.  He/she may even go so far as to arrange a meeting that will lead to a job.

You have the opportunity to use all your interpersonal skills to make an impression.  You must conduct yourself in the same manner as you would in an interview.  Dress and communicate as though it is a job interview. Don't give any 'off the record" comments.  That is, don't give away your previous employer's confidential information and don't criticise anyone.

Don’t go over the  time allocated unless the contact states it is ok to do, and don’t forget to ask for another referral.

This is an example of the basic theory. Ideally you will write an action plan.

Prospecting letters for cold calling and career networking

 

Cold calling letter to an employment agency

Basic cold calling letter to an employer - lower skills level

Cold calling letter to an employer - graduate

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On this page

Plan Your Network Strategy

Approaching people who you have been referred to by someone in your career network.

Prospecting letters for networking

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