5 easy steps to start career networking

Sharon DeLay is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Professional Career Coach. She wrote this article for our newsletter recently, we thought it was definitely worth a second read.

Studies indicate that the most effective way to find a job is through networking. Whether you’re trying to get into the company of your dreams or move across the country, networking is the way to go. Research indicates that most of the jobs available today will be filled through networking, yet resistance to this method of securing a job remains high, mostly due to uncertainty about how to get started.

Try these five easy steps to jumpstart your career networking strategy.

  1. Avoid assumptions. Often, the first words out of the new networker’s mouth are, “I don’t know anyone who can help me get to where I want. Everyone I know is just like me.” Actually, you would be surprised who people know. Even your closest friends and family members either know someone you should meet or know someone who knows someone. Don’t assume your current network is full of dead ends, which leads to the next point.
  2. Begin in your comfort zone. One misconception about networking is that you have to talk with people you don’t know. This is uncomfortable for a lot of people because they simply don’t like talking to strangers or don’t know what to say. Select a few people (friends, family members, co-workers, etc.) you know, like and trust to begin with them.
  3. Identify your goals. To get started, you need to first clarify a few things. What is it you want this year? A new position within your company? A new job altogether? New projects to expand your résumé? Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you determine your approach and what to say.
  4. Just ask. Because your first time is always a bit awkward, just make a determination that you’re going to just ask…to meet, talk on the telephone, get advice, or whatever it is you need to do. Once you get over the initial fear and discomfort of asking, it gets easier.
  5. Resolve not to ask for a job. That’s right; don’t ask someone for a job. If you ask someone for something not within his or her power to give you, he or she will be less inclined to want to help you. It’s a common human response: we tend avoid what we know we will fail to achieve (or that causes us pain). Rather than asking for a job, ask for information, other people to talk to, or feedback on how people perceive your skills, abilities and marketability. Nearly everyone can successfully give you what you need in these areas and this will ultimately lead you to your end goal.