You’ve probably seen telephone commercials about being in an organization’s “network.” In building your own personal network, however, you don’t need to limit yourself to a particular brand or plan. When I was a teenager my father used to always tell me, “It’s not necessarily what you know, but who you know.” Of course, as a teenager I didn’t take his statement very seriously, thinking that it was typical “parent talk”. In my professional life, however, I have witnessed the absolute truth of that adage in many instances, especially when it comes to searching for a job.
Networking is not about using people; it can be mutual and it’s about building relationships.
In the job search process networking is a powerful tool. If used properly it can be the most effective job search strategy.
Who is in your network?
Everybody! Let your friends, relatives, neighbors, gym buddies and church members know you are job hunting. Don’t screen anybody out based on the level of their job. Your barber or hairdresser may also do a CEO’s hair. Everything we do in life is relationship driven, and business is based on relationships.
When attending a networking event, remember that you are there to greet, not to eat. Act like a host, not a guest; introduce yourself ﬁrst. Set a goal for the number of people you want to meet and don’t be shy about approaching people. Dress appropriately, and wear your name tag on your right shoulder because when you extend your hand (giving a ﬁrm handshake) the other person’s eye will go to your name badge.
Networking should be a life-long process
One of the most important steps in the process of networking is follow-up. If you have secured a position based on someone’s referral, let them know. Inform your entire network that your status has changed and you are now happily employed. It is also very important to say thank you. Whenever someone helps you at any stage of the networking process, don’t forget to thank them!
There really shouldn’t be any ﬁnal step in networking. Networking should be a life-long process. You should be willing to give as well as receive. Keep in touch with your network. Send them a Christmas card or a congratulatory note if they receive a promotion, or an article you think they might enjoy reading. Some of the contacts you make may last for many years, and then you too will see the power of networking.
A blurb about social media
With over 70 percent of school employers checking teacher candidates’ social media profiles, sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are becoming unofficial résumés.
We will share more information on the topic of networking on social media in upcoming issues of the DIVERSITY in Ed eMAG.