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Networking: The Sine Qua Non of Job Search Success

Five smart strategies for landing your next great job. Hint: It takes more than just clicks and licks.

March 6, 2008
by Debra Feldman, the JobWhiz

Without a doubt networking is indispensable for positive campaign results. Networking is the sine qua non of job search success. In fact, industry research confirms that the vast majority of new hires result from personal connections and the percentage is highest among executives with over 85 percent reporting that they sourced their new position through a personal recommendation or referral.

Face it. We are human. We can’t resist the temptation of a big payoff. We enjoy a calculated risk. We like going for good odds. Thus, when it comes to our livelihoods, financial security and future careers, networking purposefully to find a new challenge is the favored method, even if it takes more personal effort than clicks (online job sites) and licks (direct mail).

Although submitting resumes online, notifying recruiters via fax resume blasts and direct mail campaigns including broadcast emails, can generate employer interest, it is personal networking that produces the most viable job leads and the lifelong relationships that make investing the time to nurture the right connections pay off. Just look back through your own career history or ask colleagues how they got their last position. Playing the odds in the job hunter’s favor means emphasizing networking activities over all other, even easier, job search methods. Get to work and expand your network and work those contacts harder and the odds are you’ll produce a new opportunity faster than using any other approach.

Despite the volume being far greater through e-mail blasts, mailings and online clicks, what generates real career offers are personal connections. Direct mail campaigns distributing your marketing documents produce about a one percent return, at best. Calculate the cost of paper, stamps and labor involved and your ROI isn’t very efficient. Then, you have to factor in all the envelopes and postage lost on returns and the uncertainty of not knowing whether anyone actually bothered to evaluate your materials, even if they actually made it into the right hands. Finally, there is no guarantee of making a direct, personal connection with the recipient and only such an interaction between individuals actually produces real job offers.

Contrast this to establishing a warm personal relationship with someone you target as a good networking resource and the likelihood of getting additional referrals and/or an immediate job lead argues dramatically in favor of purposeful networking as the job search method of choice, especially for senior-level professionals. Using effective networking, it’s possible to achieve a greater than 100 percent response rate (contrasted to one percent for mass blasts and it’s startling!) from each networking encounter. That‘s more than one referral for each and every contact you establish since many of the individuals you meet or speak with or e-mail will offer to help as well as give you the names of additional networking contacts. Very quickly, your network builds exponentially, vastly increasing the number of people aware of your qualifications and connected by one or more degrees of separation. At the executive level, employers are much more comfortable hiring a friend of a friend than selecting their next leader from a bunch of resumes representing unknown prospects.

How to Start a Networking-Driven Job Search

First identify with whom to connect (target employers) and then define how best to command attention and the desirable response (invitation to meet in person). Despite the substantially greater efforts involved, networking, especially targeted networking focusing on a few highly selected contacts with big potential, provides a greater probability for uncovering new career opportunities matching a candidate’s requirements. If this is the method used continuously to expand one’s business network, when it comes time to seek a new opportunity, many appropriate and valuable connections will already have been established paving a successful path filled with insider tips, leads and information.

Adopt these strategies for putting the sine qua non of job search success — networking — to the test:

  • Establish a specific reason or focus for each networking interaction. Know what this contact can do to further the campaign progress and politely ask for help. Sure doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs and barbers might all know someone, but the membership chair of the local chamber of commerce knows even more people who might be helpful.
  • Strategically focus networking activity to concentrate on individuals positioned to bring more connections or get you closer to the individual(s) you want to know your qualifications. If someone works at your target employer or is the roommate of someone who is employed there, this is one good way to get inside an organization.
  • Target networking to get connected to individuals who are well connected to exponentially increase your networking depth and reach. Certain people have a knack for attracting others (they are hubs) and have a robust network in place. There are also individuals who are key contacts to engage because their status makes them extremely well connected and able to open doors for you.
  • Be persistent. If you believe a contact is beneficial and are having difficulty reaching them, don’t easily give up trying to get their attention. Identify someone who might be able to arrange an introduction rather than cold calling. Keep a tickler file and periodically attempt to make contact. Do something outrageous, but professional, to capture their attention and start a dialogue. (Find something to compliment — always a good way to break the ice and start a friendly exchange.)
  • List everyone you have ever known that you admire and respect. Seek them out and let them know what your career objectives are at this time. If they ever liked you, chances are they will be happy to help, offer advice and provide support.

Do something that provides the opportunity for you to promote yourself in a way that doesn’t shout, “I need a job! Hire me!” For example, publish an article that you can circulate. This will keep you in front of others without having to send a message saying outright that you are job hunting and need their help. When they contact you to congratulate you is the time to make them aware that you are open to new opportunities.

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Debra Feldman, JobWhiz is the original and premier career management resource (“reverse recruiter”) for senior executives providing personal introductions to decision makers to create new opportunities just for clients in the unadvertised, or hidden job market. Your personal talent agent connects you directly with hiring managers at high potential target employers to identify your next career challenge in the shortest possible time. Bypass gatekeepers, eliminate cold calling, penetrate computerized screens, and command meaningful interviews where you want to work. Have JobWhiz accelerate your job search immediately with 100 percent successful expert techniques customized to support your daily steady campaign progress. Turn stress into success! Contact Debra Feldman at www.JobWhiz.com.