Networking: It’s a Mindset. Do it BEFORE You Need to

ATLANTA, GA. The number one resource for new hires is referrals – not job boards.  It always has been and continues to be.  Unfortunately, most people don’t start building a network or asking for help until they are already unemployed and looking for work.  Too late. Build your personal network – both face to face and on-line and CONTINUE building it while you are employed.  So when you find yourself in a job search again – most of us either have recently or will in the near future – you will have a larger network to work with.  Make it a mindset, not a forced activity.

The reality is that networking shouldn’t be something you do occasionally or feverishly for one month, it should be the way you build and maintain professional relationships on an on-going basis.

Many “old school” networking techniques still apply but use modern technology to make it work to your advantage.  You don’t have to be on My Space, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other social medium.  Although a  successful job search strategy will consist of both an online and an offline approach. Successful networking requires that you have as many contacts as possible hear your story, so they realize you are in the job market.   The easiest way to organize and keep up with your contacts and his/her happenings is Linkedin.com.  It takes 5 minutes to set up your profile.  Pretty much just cut and paste your resume.  Then put 10 minutes a day or one hour a week finding old connections and engaging new ones.

Tips for using Linkedin.com to your advantage:

  • Use your personal email address and not a business one.  In the event your business email is cut off unexpectedly, you will still have access to your online network.
  • Invest time and effort making new connections that will drive business (now and in the future).
    • Search for professors, friends, neighbors, relatives, former employers, former and current coworkers,  potential mentors, even competitors
    • Connect with professionals those in your network recommend
  • Be sure to personalize your linkedin profile url with your name.
  • Use your network not only to learn but convey how you can help others.  It’s better to give than receive.
    • Join groups
    • Post thought provoking discussions within those groups
    • Make comments on other people’s thought provoking discussions – be sure to sign your name and linkedin.com profile url
  • When you apply for a job, search linkedin for other people who work at that company.  You’d be surprised who you know and whom they know and that they are actually willing to help.
  • Be cognizant of the fact that many, if not most, job openings aren’t advertised. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work. Ask if they can help.
  • Focus on the quality of the participation (numbers help, too).

Remember that each person you meet is a potential lead.  Networking isn’t something for the “to do” list,  but it is something that you should do.

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