- Networking is a job search process that focuses on proactive interaction with others. Its purpose is to gather information, advice, and referrals that will ultimately lead to interviews and employment.
- Prospecting involves contacting people to arrange informational interviews with them or to gain referrals to people in their organization or profession, or in similar organizations or professions.
- Information interviews are meetings with people in a position, field, or organization in which you ask questions and gather helpful facts and advice. The focus of the conversation is on the career and knowledge of the other person.
From 60%-90% of jobs are found informally in this country - mainly through friends, relatives, and direct contacts. Studies note that both employers and employees prefer informal and personal methods of job finding. Employers prefer to hire people who are of known quality, believing that the best candidates are those who are referred by their colleagues, friends and acquaintances, whose judgment they trust. Individuals who use personal contacts to find jobs are reported to be more satisfied with their jobs and tend to have higher incomes. This word of mouth technique is very powerful. It provides employers with a trustworthy pool of applicants, reduces the risk of hiring the wrong candidate and is more time and cost effective than traditional methods.
Prospecting for Leads
Begin by making a list of potential contacts. Some will already be a part of your network; others you will be contacting for the first time. Begin with your already existing contact base. Tell them about your career aspirations and specific objectives, and ask those who have observed your performance to serve as potential references.
Your existing contacts may be some of the following:
- Friends and friends of friends
- Other relatives
- Fredonia faculty
- Fredonia professional staff
- Past or current employers
- Internship supervisors
- Parents, parents' friends, and parents of friends
- Community groups
- Religious groups
- Fredonia alumni
Even if you already have some good contacts, you can't afford to rely solely on them. In addition to asking your contacts to give you the names of other people you can talk to, meet with a CDO counselor to get leads from the Alumni Career Connection, and use the employer directories to identify potential organizations of interest. The telephone Yellow Pages and Chamber of Commerce directories are other good sources. Join professionally related newsgroups or listservs on the Web. Read articles in professional journals or newsletters to get ideas for leads. Seek out experiences where you can "position" yourself to be around people who could potentially be good contacts:
- Temporary, summer, part-time or volunteer jobs
- Career and job fairs
- Attend professional conferences
- Join professional organizations, attend meetings, volunteer for projects
Before you actually make your contacts, learn about and practice your information interviewing skills, including your telephone skills. (See Career Guide C5, Interviewing for Information). If you have questions or need help, make an appointment to speak with a CDO counselor.
- Networking is a key part of the job search (summer and full-time), job advancement, and job change process. Building and using networks should be a permanent aspect of your career.
- Information interviews are an important part of the networking process.
- Most people, regardless of their position or status, love to talk about their work and give advice to both friends and strangers.
- The more contacts you make, the more useful information, advice, and leads you will receive.
- You need to continually develop new contacts while maintaining communication with prior contacts.
- You must be completely honest with yourself and others when seeking employment or advancing your career. For example, when you arrange an information interview, you should ask for information only, not a job.
- Courtesy is key, with all people and at all times. For example, you should always send a thank you note to someone who has helped you.
- While networking may ultimately lead to interviews and job offers, the purpose of networking is to get information, advice, and referrals.
- Networking is one of several techniques used in getting a job; it doesn't eliminate the need for other methods.
- Networking doesn't focus on the person with the power to hire.
- Networking can work in any community and can be important to a long distance job search.
- The more you network and conduct informational interviews, the more you should become focused on specific career goals and organizations.
- The "Three P's" are essential to successful networking: patience, perseverance, and a positive attitude.
- Accepting some rejections is part of the game - for all of us.
- The telephone is more effective than the letter, but a face-to-face meeting is best.
- The best way to get a job is never ask for a job directly; always ask for information, advice and referrals.
Source: Network Your Way to Job & Career Success, Krannich and Krannich, Impact Publications (Located on the Job Search Information shelf in the Career Development Office)