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People often ask “Is it who you know or what you know?”. While it’s crucial to have the proper experience and knowledge on how to do the job, take a step back and think about the sheer number of resumes that an average employer receives along with yours.
To put things into perspective, Google receives an average of 2 resumes per minute or 20,000 resumes per week, according to The New York Times (which works out to 2 resumes per minute). So, even if your resume is in tip-top shape and you have the perfect qualifications for the job, there’s a chance that your resume may never even get looked at. That’s where networking comes in. You just may end up shaking hands with a person who can help you land a job.
The “build your network” concept is great, but how do you actually build a network? But networking can be tough, especially if you are not the “social” type. If the thought of calling people you don’t know or having a conversation at a networking event makes you a little nervous, consider the following networking tips to help you build your network.
Good news, you already have a network (unless you’ve been living as a recluse on some remote island). “What?” you may ask. Every friend, relative, former coworker, current coworker, and college or high school acquaintance is a part of your existing network. And did I mention neighbors, your mailman, and the checkout person at the supermarket? All of these individuals are part of your existing network, now you just need to “formalize” your list. How to start:
- Paper & Pen – The best way to start is to create a list of names and the easiest way to do this is to create an old-fashioned list. Use whatever you are most comfortable with – paper, computer, whatever. Just start your list.
- Categories – First, list all of the categories mentioned above (schools, jobs, etc.) and then start to make a list of names under these categories (leave yourself room to add more as you go).
- Use an Online Network tool – Once you have your list, use a business social network such as LinkedIn and start to make your connections (see Are you LinkedIn?)
Once you’ve created your list network list, it’s time to build your extended network. This consists of:
- People who work or worked at companies where you worked – They may not actually know you (maybe they know your name and maybe they don’t) but if you work/worked at the same company they are likely to be receptive to being part of your network.
- People who work or worked at companies where you would like to work – As part of your job LinkedIn is a great tool for this research.
A great place to build your network is networking events. There is a wide range of events, including alumni events and trade group events. Take a look at some of the following links:
- 4 Tips for Utilizing Social Networking Outlets for Your Job Search
- 20 Tools to Find Local Networking Events Quickly
Take a look at some of the following networking tips:
- Leverage Professional Associations (as mentioned above). Take a look at List of international professional associations.
- Follow-up After Events – There are many ways to follow-up after a networking event. Send an email, offer to set up follow-up meetings, connect on Linkedin, etc.
- Network Every Week – Find at least one way to network every week. Whether it be coffee breaks (see below) or emails to keep in touch.
- Coffee Meetings – Invite people from your network to coffee. This is a great way to stay in touch.
- Networking is a Two Way Street – You need to give to receive. Make sure you are helping people with their needs as well. Give and you shall receive!