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Networking for Success

July 01, 2012
Ken Pelczarski
Career Coach Column, TLT


Click to see the PDFNetworking for Success

How to take full advantage of this powerful job-search tool.

The many ways to find a new career opportunity include networking, search firms, print and online advertisements, employer Web sites and online resume postings. Estimates suggest that 50%-70% of professional positions are obtained through networking.

What is networking? Career networking is an ongoing process of communicating with others for mutual exchange of ideas, information and interests in order to assist others in fulfilling their needs and goals and help you advance your career and situate yourself in the best possible career role.

Why network? When you uncover a job lead through networking, you often have the advantage of (1.) acquiring the name of a hiring contact, (2.) learning in advance about the employer’s culture, (3.) learning in advance about an open position, (4.) knowing you likely want to work for the organization because of the strong recommendation from a reliable source and (5.) being able to use your networking contact name as a referral source. Although you will utilize multiple job lead sources, your main efforts should be focused on networking because it is by far the most common way to locate a new job opportunity.

When to network. Very simply, network whenever possible, whether or not you are actively looking for a job opportunity. The time will come, maybe soon and likely many times throughout your career, when you will search for a new position. The idea is to constantly work on building a broad professional network so you have resources when

Where to network. Effective networking is best accomplished in person but also can be done via telephone, social media or e-mail. Below are excellent places to network:

  • Trade shows, conventions and conferences
  • Technical presentations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Continuing education venues
  • Career fairs
  • Company and social events
  • Professional and community volunteer venues
  • Company business meetings
  • Online discussion groups
  • Social media Web sites

With whom? Ideal networking contacts include those who are (1.) in the same field, (2.) prominent industry experts with broad knowledge and contacts, (3.) accessible and willing to help, (4.) people whom you can assist and (5.) knowledgeable of the current job market.

These contacts include (1.) current and past co-workers and superiors, (2.) industry colleagues, (3.) people on your reference list, (4.) industry presenters and authors, (5.) professors and advisors, (6.) fellow volunteers, (7.) other job searchers, (8.) technical society members and (9.) recruiters.

How to network. Depending upon how actively you are job searching and the level of discretion desired, share your goals, interests, background, strengths and current job situation with your networking contacts.

In addition to direct contact with your network, maintaining high visibility in your field will keep people aware of your personality, style, knowledge, capabilities and interests. Get published, present papers, be a top performer, start a blog and volunteer in technical societies such as STLE. Industry professionals will thus be more likely to contact you for assistance or with an opportunity.

Basic networking rules and goals:

  • Do not ask for a job directly.
  • Be respectful of a person’s time.
  • Set up personal or phone appointments.
  • Assist others as much as they are helping you.
  • Constantly build your professional network.
  • Keep in touch regularly.
  • Follow through on promises.
  • Thank network contacts for assistance.

Remember, too, to maximize social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Below are tips for using LinkedIn, a site focused on professional networking:

  • Maintain a current background profile.
  • Invite others to join your network.
  • Accept network invitations from others.
  • Request recommendations from others.
  • Write recommendations for others.
  • Encourage others to contact you for mutual assistance.
  • Introduce your contacts to each other.
  • Join STLE and other groups.
  • Participate in group discussions.
  • Identify hiring contacts at companies.

Good luck in obtaining your next great opportunity through networking!

Ken Pelczarski is owner and founder of Pelichem Associates, a Chicago-based search firm established in 1985 and specializing in the lubricants industry. You can reach Ken at (630) 960-1940 or at pelichem@aol.com.

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