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What Must Be Your Networking Objectives

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  • To uncover hidden job opportunities.

  • To increase your contacts and broaden your information network.

  • To find out more information about the market, a particular company, or a particular field.

  • To be remembered

Objective #1 - Uncovering Hidden Job Opportunities

You may have heard the phrase, "There is power in numbers." The more people who are aware of your needs and skills, the better your chances are of someone knowing about a job opportunity. That is how you uncover hidden opportunities. People run across job openings all the time. If you tell everyone you know that you are looking, they will very likely keep you in mind if they hear of an available position that suits you. Some of your contacts may give you the name of a professional in the industry with whom you could talk. Perfect! Call that person and "tell 'em who sentya!"

Objective #2 - Increasing Your Contacts

Let's say you draft a networking list. Who would your list include? Begin with your friends, neighbors, relatives, and teachers-people you know fairly well and are in regular contact with. Take a moment to write a networking list. See how many you can come up with in just a few minutes.

Contacting Your List

When you have established your contact list, look it over. You have probably come up with a list that is larger than you expected. The important thing to remember about networking is that you don't necessarily have to be on a first-name basis with all of these people. You can list the friends of your friends, or relatives of your friends. Even if you don't know them well, write them down. You will begin by contacting the people you know best, and then work your way to the others.

So why did you make this list? These people may be able to help you with your job search. They may know of someone who is hiring, they may offer some hints on your resume, tell you more about their particular industry, or possibly refer you to a professional they know in your field. Your objective is to set up a meeting with each contact to acquire knowledge. Contacting everyone on your list will put you one step closer to finding a job.

It's easier to network with people you know. You've probably known them for years and feel sure they would like to see you do well. Start with them first. Pop by their houses. Gall them. Tell them that you are beginning your job search, and that the strategies you have been using so far may not be working. Ask them what they think of your strategy. Most people will not be able to leave it at "Oh, I'd keep doing what you're doing." Trust me, they will be compelled to give you a bit of advice!

As a matter of fact, networking is a tremendous ego booster for your contacts-it gives them a chance to show off what they know, or who they know. If they feel they can help you in any way, it will make them feel helpful and useful.

Informational Interviews

Objective #3 - Finding Out More Information

Suppose one of your contacts refers you to a professional in the industry, or, you have decided to call a professional in the industry on your own-someone who is doing what you would like to be doing. Now what do you do? Well, you approach your networking contact for an informational interview.

An informational interview is an invaluable aid for increasing your professional contacts and your awareness of the industry. Make your first contact by phone. Introduce yourself and tell your contact that you are seeking advice about your job search strategy. Explain your current situation - you may be graduating from school, reentering the workforce, reevaluating your career goals-whatever situation applies to you. Tell your contact you would like to set up a brief meeting (fifteen to twenty minutes) to get input and reactions to your resume and your career direction, and to ask how they got started in the industry. The important thing to remember is that you are not calling them for a job. You don't want to put them in an awkward situation. Simply tell them you are interested in their advice and guidance and that you know, with their help, you can get on the right track!

Overcoming Reluctance

Now you're probably saying, "HOLD IT! I can't call people I barely know and start asking them for advice!" That's a normal reaction; most people feel the same way. Until you get a few calls under your hat, you're going to feel a little nervous scheduling an informational interview. Practice scheduling the interview with a friend using note cards if needed. Keep important information such as your resume near you, so if your contact has any questions, you will have the information close at hand. You may be surprised when you see how many people are flattered you chose to contact them.

Preparing for Informational Interviews

Objective #4 - Making Yourself Memorable

Now that you have set up an informational interview with your contact, what are you going to talk about when you are sitting in her office? You promised her you would only take a few moments of her time, but you have to make sure you cover everything, or the meeting will be a waste of your time and hers. You are the interviewer this time, so you will have to prepare the outline for the meeting. How will it begin, progress, and end? What questions are you going to ask? What purpose would you like to accomplish? Once again, you will need to be organized, because the most important thing to remember is that you leave your contact with a good impression of you in case a job becomes available. Informational interviews are just as important as actual job interviews.
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