networkEver since I started working in a recruiting office, I get questions such as, “What’s the best way to get a job?” “How do I get into that industry?” or “Who should I contact about a position at your company?” The last thing anyone wants to hear is, “Apply online.” Why? Because online you can easily become number 498.

Networking is still the number one way to find a job. Many positions posted on job boards such as indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, or simplyhired.com may already have a candidate to fill that position. Does that mean it is impossible to find a job by applying online? Not necessarily, but it is more difficult than using a strong social network.

What is Networking? Networking is the art of maintaining a modest to large group of contacts: either friends or acquaintances, who work in a number of industries. These people are there to help you find a job, meet other professionals, fill a job, offer professional advice, and make recommendations. Ideally, your network should be made up of people you can call on for advice, who have your best interest at heart.

What Networking is NOT: Networking is not a one-way street. Coercing others into giving you a job will hardly help you win any friends. When someone helps you find a job, it is appropriate to thank them with a heartfelt note or a small gift. Also, it never hurts to pass along contacts and information that may, in turn, help him or her find a better job or make a new connection.

Networking is:

1.      The fastest way to get your name and resume to a manager. Managers feel more comfortable interviewing and hiring someone who has a good reputation with an internal employee.

2.     The best way to hear about new positions. Internal job boards post jobs much sooner than outside job boards.

3.      The best “safety net” in case you lose your job. You never know when you might get laid off or have a life changing event that may force you to find a new job. It’s good to keep your contacts close in case of emergencies.

Another reason why Networking is huge is because it is incredibly rewarding. Helping others find jobs and resources can help you grow as a person and realize how large of an impact you can have on others’ lives. Businesses are collaborations. There wouldn’t be a business without clients, and little to no clients without recommendations from other clients.

Businesses thrive on a large network of contacts, as do professionals. Through more contacts in more companies, you will meet, benefit from, help, and grow with other professionals.

So how do you Network? Talk to friends. Go to parties. Attend large networking events such as conferences in your industry, job fairs, and job enrichment courses. Strike up a conversation with your co-workers, other people in your company, and even the company next door. You might even meet great people randomly – at a coffee shop, at your local community center or religious group, the possibilities are endless. You may even meet interesting people while shopping for a refrigerator. My father recently met a new client and contact while buying a new car. They were buying the same model and struck up a conversation!

Networking is the oldest and surest way to find a job. Start growing your network today.

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