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Job Networking: Network Your Way To A Job Offer
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA, CCMC, CPRW, SaiCareers.com, New York
January 16, 2006

What do most successful people have in common? No, not money. If you observe successful professionals carefully, you will notice one similarity among all of them: they are all well-networked. Networking is no newbie to the world of business (or employment); from business deals to job leads, networking has always been the way to go.

It is an undisputed fact that almost 75 to 80% of jobs are filled through networking. This trend doesn’t come as a surprise though; don’t we all love to shop at places or dine at restaurants recommended to us by our trusted friends? In a similar manner, corporations, too, like to hire employees referred by a trusted source.

So how exactly does one break into an employer’s inner circle? Well, read on.

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Get them to recommend you
Let us examine some of the individuals or organizations any company would need to work with. An average company would need at least one or more of the following: lawyer (or law firm); bank, investors, or venture capital firms; consultants; vendors; employees; insurance agents (or companies); customers (of course); technology support (internal or external); maintenance; business partners; external auditors (or accounting firms); public relations consultant(s); equipment suppliers … In addition, one or more of the following affiliations may exist: universities, professional associations, community, religious, political, non-profit causes …

Using aggressive networking and targeted company and industry research, you should be able to discover which of these parties your employer associates with. Once you have that information try approaching them. Most people tend to be receptive to individuals soliciting advice or guidance, so the key is to avoid sounding like a salesperson, but rather as someone who is seeking advice. (During the conversation you could slowly introduce a request for recommendation or help.)

Merit if supplemented with a recommendation from someone known to the employer could significantly boost your chances of securing the offer.

Nail the hiring manager
Targeted cold calling, networking, extensive company research, and industry associations should help you find the name of the hiring manager. The way targeted cold calling works (for the purpose of job networking) is as follows: try calling the company you are interested in working with; ask the operator to transfer you to the department you would most likely work at; once through the department, tactfully ask the person on the other end to tell you the name of the person who would make hiring decisions for the department. (Sometimes, it helps if you tell the other person you are looking for advice as opposed to a job.)

Even though HR does all the hiring, most of the job requisition process starts at the departmental level. Sometimes, if you manage to speak with the hiring manager before recruitment ads are placed, you might eliminate all the competition that would otherwise come into play once the ad placed.

(If possible, network with individuals at one level above, below, and at the same level as the hiring manager. If these individuals also put in a word for you, it would be like icing on a cake.)

Tell everyone
The more you network (also read Grow Your Network), the faster you will reach your career goals. Start by contacting everyone in your address book. It doesn’t matter if they are not in your profession or your geographic area of interest; they might just know of someone who can help -- don’t assume they can’t help. Potential networking contacts and platforms can include the following: friends, colleagues, acquaintances, previous employers, industry associates, vendors, customers, mentors, professors, industry/alumni associations, college career centers, recruiters and headhunters, golf buddies, book club members, support groups, places of worship, career fairs, community and religious leaders, industry experts, etc. I would also add individuals like barbers, massage therapists, doctors, vets, nail salon owners and workers, waiters, bartenders, coaches, neighbors, subway riders (of course, the ones you speak with), bus drivers ... Now, I know that sounds like a stretch, but my stance is based on experience. I recently coached a client to contact everyone she knew; though reluctant at first, she took my advice seriously. She informed her massage therapist about her employment interests; the therapist happened to know a CEO (again, a client); the two connected and, voilà, my client found her dream job. This is not an isolated example; the employment world is a witness to many such stories everyday.

Remember, job networking will not produce instant results; it takes patience, practice, and hard work to get there.

Recruiters and headhunters
Networking with recruiters and headhunters is integral to the success of any job networking effort. These are individuals who get paid thousands of dollars to find the “right” candidate. (Certain recruiters have a tremendous influence over the hiring manager.)

Given that almost 75% of openings will never be advertised, it is all the more important to add job networking to your portfolio of job search or career management strategies.

Related Articles:
Grow Your Network
Networking Tips For The Very Shy



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