It’s day six of our 10 Days to a New Career special. So far, we covered topics such as setting goals, researching possible career pathways, building a solid foundation of jobs skills and cleaning up the CV and getting serious about LinkedIn. Today, we’re focusing on another aspect of professional networking -how to building a network of professional relationships for the sake of your career.
Networking, effectively, is a vital part of getting the career you want in 2013.
But making it work for you involves more than attending industry events and speaking to the stranger lingering next to the buffet table.
Networking is all about building relationships. It’s not about how many business cards you can hand out at an event or how many LinkedIn connections you can accumulate in a week. And while it can be quite daunting, you need to get started now and put in the effort to get results.
“I ask people, ‘Are you prepared to have a determined, disciplined job search campaign?’ If they are, they will get the job and the other person won’t. They may not be the best person suited to the job, but they’ll get the job,” says the director of Career Consultancy, Catherine Cunningham.
“The general philosophy is that more than 80% of jobs are never advertised … If you have to reinvent yourself you will succeed in networking whereas you may not succeed in answering an ad on Seek. In networking you’re a warm, living, breathing person.”
Cunningham distinguishes between “social yourself you will succeed in networking whereas you may not succeed in answering an ad on Seek. In networking you’re a warm, living, breathing person.”business networking” and “pure networking” and it’s the pure networking that you need to focus on.
“Social business networking is the going to functions … You have to do it, we all have to do it, but it has a very low return on investment,” she says.
Pure networking, according to Cunningham, has two purposes. The first is the gathering of information to get a better idea of what’s out there, helping you to decipher your career options if you’re undecided.
The second purpose is the job hunt.
Cunningham suggests asking an existing contact for a short coffee meeting, preferably face-to-face, to get their advice and discuss any opportunities they may know of in the area you’re interested in.
“Never, ever, ever ask for a job in pure networking,” she advises. “You hardly ever get work out of that first level of contact, so in the meeting, ask them who else you should be talking to. Try to get two names out of them.
“And then there’s the scary bit. Pick up the phone and ring a stranger and ask for a meeting,” she says. “In that meeting, you hope that the person offers you a job, but if the don’t, you ask for two names.”
While Cunningham admits the process can be somewhat terrifying, she says it’s worth fighting through the fear.
“There is no downside to networking. At the end of your three or four-month campaign you are a stronger person and you can take that with you to your next job. You know you can do the stuff that’s hard.”
HOMEWORK: What you need to do today
- Put it in your calendar: Plan the events you will attend this year. If you haven’t already, join industry associations as they will have regular events throughout the year. Websites such as The Fetch www.thefetch.com.au will help you discover what events are on in your industry or the industry you want to be a part of.
- Make the call: Contact one of your existing contacts to set up a meeting and go from there.