You have heard it before – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While there is a certain amount of truth to this, most of us realize that to succeed in business, particularly in job seeking, you have to have the contacts AND the skills. To tap into your network of people who might assist you in your job search, you have to have built up a network to tap! Those of you looking for immediate results might not like to hear this, but developing a network and the skills to use it take lots of time and energy.
If you can reconcile yourself to the long-term benefits of building and maintaining a network, it is really easy to start. Some people swear they don’t know how to network and don’t understand it, but it is really just a matter of recognizing opportunities when they present themselves.
A friend of mine once commented that he was amazed at how many clients I managed to get without any advertising. Another friend of mine pointed out that I have a pretty decent network built up after 20 years of writing. “Besides,” she said, “Becky is nice to people.” This just annoyed my rather gruff friend who was making the complaint but it brings up a good point. Networks are give and take. You don’t build a list of people you can go to and ask them for stuff. You create and maintain relationships where you can help each other. Technology has made this even easier than it was 10 years ago.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn. There are other business networking sites, but LinkedIn seems to have the greatest recognition. I am on LinkedIn and you should be too. How can I say that when I don’t even know you? Easy. You are job hunting. You wouldn’t expect to get anywhere without a resume. Well, LinkedIn is the resume of the new millennium.
To start, you can just treat it as an online resume. Hopefully as you become more acquainted with it, you will see the networking value of it. It is like a million people sharing their resumes with each other in an incredibly organized fashion. You can search for resumes by the name of the person, the company, the job, the skill…just about any search criteria you can think of. Look for people who have similar jobs, or the job you want to have someday, or alums from your high school or college. Join some groups that are linked by common interests. Next thing you know, you have a network.
Maintaining this network will take time. Just think of it as common courtesy and keep up your side of the conversation, say please and thank you, be considerate of other’s feelings and all those other things your mom taught you. If you are willing to be available to others and open with them about your goals, your network will blossom and it might even happen faster than you think.
By: Becky Papp, Elance.com