A point I continuously make to encourage job seekers to network with as many people as they possibly can is this;essentially, people want to help you. Every one of us has known a close friend or colleague that has experienced an unexpected job loss and wanted to do whatever we could to assist in their securing a new job. Unfortunately, too often the job seeker takes for granted that a colleague who has offered to help instinctively knows how to help them. In reality, most either don’t know many specifics on how to help or could use more guidance from the job seeker as to ways to assist. So, before you the job seeker become frustrated at people that promised to help you but haven’t come through, make sure that you have provided them with the following information:
What You Are Looking For. Don’t assume people know as much about what you do and your areas of expertise as you think. This often leads to people giving inappropriate contacts or referrals, which frustrates you. But if you don’t follow up, your referral source understandably feels hurt or unappreciated, and likely hesitate offering further assistance. Once someone has offered to help, providing him or her a copy of your résumé is an obvious first step. If you have a LinkedIn profile, share that as well. Also, outline the various titles of positions you typically apply for. Your contacts then have a better point of reference regarding people they might know in similar titles and fields they can refer you to.
Where You Are Looking. I recently received a great tip on this topic from Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn, Now What? He recommends to always keep the names several of your target companies on your mind. Then, whenever you discuss your job search with someone, identify some of these companies as places you hope to get a foot in the door at. That way, if your friend or colleague has a contact at one of the companies, they can provide you with it. Even someone outside or with little knowledge of you field may have contacts at certain companies and can easily make a referral.
How Your Search Is Progressing. In my book Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naïve Job Seeker, one of the ongoing steps I recommend is to send your contacts periodic email updates regarding your job search. Outline specific jobs and companies applied to, interviewed at and interested in. (Jason Alba is also a big proponent of this). Doing so not only reinforces points made in the first two recommendations, but also serves to keep you and your search on colleagues’ radar screen. This increases the likelihood that when one comes across an appropriate contact or opportunity, they’ll associate it with you and try to make the connection. Include within the updates new information, stories and the like you have discovered throughout your search that may prove beneficial to the readers. Remember that networking works best when all parties benefit. As a job seeker speaking to many contacts in your field, you likely will come across a lot of information that may be of interest to your colleagues. If you discover something potentially beneficial to a particular contact, notify them in a private email immediately, reinforcing your willingness to help them as well.