Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Networking Strategically – 3 Steps to More Effective Networking

You have most likely heard of the importance of networking in the job search process. The numbers of varying surveys range from 40% to 85%, but the message is clear, a high percentage of job seekers are obtaining their jobs through networking efforts.

Networking is really nothing more than talking to someone about what you have to offer a company and what you need. However, like anything, the more strategically you approach networking, the more success you will acheive. Here is a 3-step process that will help you optimize your networking efforts.

Step 1 – Assess Yourself to Develop a Focus
It is very difficult to sell a product about which you know nothing. Make no mistakes, the job search process is an exercise in sales and marketing. Therefore, before you can effectively network to promote yourself, you must first get to know what you have to offer. Define your skills, identify your values, clarify the role you see yourself taking in a company, and decide the type of work environment you prefer.

Step 2 – Define your Networking Strategy
Take some time to make a list of your networking contacts. When you open your mind and don’t discount anyone as being unable to help you, the possibilities are truly endless. In addition to the people you know or come into contact with, consider a few other possibilities for networking such as informational interviewing, job shadowing, and internships. Check back on Thursday for some tips and ideas regarding who you can add to your networking contacts list.

Step 3 – Create your Self Introduction
A self introduction – also called an elevator speech or 30-second commercial – is your way of quickly and concisely summing up your background and experience, how you can help an organization, the definition of your target employer, and what assistance you are looking for. This earlier blog post goes more in-depth on how to create a self-introduction. You must at least memorize your key “talking points” so that when you find a networking opportunity – no matter where you are – you can intelligently and persuasively talk about your unique selling points.

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