Networking or Job Searching? Are They the Same or are They Different?

27 10 2011

Are Networking and Job Searching the same, or are they different?  What do you think?

I am a career coach, social media consultant and former executive search recruiter (headhunter).  I am passionate about networking as the most effective way to find a job, especially a “hidden job”.  And yet, I also see networking and job searching as two different, but related processes.

Networking is the process of building and maintaining relationships. To network successfully, you should be focused on how you can help others.  Networking is mutually beneficial – it is reciprocal.  Look to give, and you will receive, and give without the expectation of receiving.  When you do ask for help, ask for information, advice and referrals (connections to others).  Do so honestly, without a hidden agenda.  Ask your contacts to brainstorm with you, and to share their ideas and their expertise.  When you are networking, your contacts will keep you in mind, and refer opportunities to you when they hear of something.  It is counter-intuitive – when you don’t ask for a job, it is more likely a job will come to you.

Job searching is the explicit process of looking for an opportunity.  When you ask for a job or job lead, you get one of two responses – “Yes” or “No”.  In this difficult job market, it is most often, “No”, and the conversation ends.  When you ask for something that someone cannot offer, you may actually frustrate their willingness and efforts to help you!

Can you combine networking with job searching?  Yes.  When there is an opening at a company where you have a connection, or one of your contacts has a connection, you can ask for help in referring you or sending your resume.  You do increase the likelihood of getting more attention to your resume than just applying through the company website.

However, as I described above, you can do so much more with your networking process.  Make an effort to connect with and meet new people.  Keep in touch with the people you already know.  When is the last time you reached out to your former co-workers just to see how they’re doing?  Make your conversation two -way; start by asking others about themselves, and:

  • Don’t jump into your job search misery and frustration.
  • Allow people who know you to maintain a similar relationship with you that they had before you became unemployed.
  • Keep it comfortable, and let them offer to help, instead of your asking.
  • Don’t expect anyone to help you, and they more likely will.

Networking can be fun and pleasant.  You will maintain your friendships, and make new ones.  You will learn and share with others.  My favorite expression is:  “You never know”.  You never know when and where an opportunity will find you, but the more you network, the more people you meet and keep in touch with, the more likely a job will come.  And, it’s going to be much more rewarding than sitting at your computer and clicking and sending your resume day after day, with so little response.

So, are you really networking, or job searching in disguise?

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