Like it or not, networking is a critical survival skill for job search and careers.
Currently, with the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down face-to-face meetings, avoiding networking has become easier and a bit more comfortable.
Now we have a great excuse for not attending the local business meetings -- we must practice "social distancing!".
However, simply because face-to-face meetings are not currently a good idea, networking is still essential for a successful job search.
FACT (pandemic or not):
People hire people they like and trust.
To prove you are likeable and trustworthy, you must still network. That is absolutely the fastest way to a new job!
This section of Job-Hunt will help you succeed, and, even, enjoy networking.
Your network is a critical source of information and introductions, literally the "inside track" to your next job.
You can learn about opportunities that are NOT yet visible to the world through your network, and the opportunities may be customized for you.
Your network may even provide you with an advantage over other job candidates after a job has been posted.
When you are referred for a job by a current employee, your network has put you at the top of the list of potential candidates.
Even if you are not perfectly qualified for the job, being referred by an employee makes it MUCH more likely that you will be hired.
Networking has a bad reputation for some who equate networking with "using" people.
But good networking - effective networking - is NOT about "using" anyone.
Effective networking is people helping each other solve problems and succeed. It is a two-way street - always - or it doesn't last, and it is not successful or effective.
Effective networking is catching up with old friends or colleagues, and meeting new people you have something in common with -- a location, a skill, a former employer, a fondness for pepperoni pizza, kids the same age, or something else.
We can network in person, as done traditionally, and also online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on) now.
Regardless of the mode you use for your networking, remember that networking is the classic "two-way street." If all you do is ask for help and favors, you will not succeed.
"Give before you get" is excellent networking advice.
The most effect strategy typically is giving assistance more often that you ask for or accept assistance or favors from your network.
Since we have a limited amount of time in every day to do our networking and our job search, the best strategy is to focus your networking efforts on the employers you would prefer to work for.
Do some research, including informational interviews, LinkedIn, and Google. Do you know people who work (or worked in the past) at any of those target employers?
If you do know people who work / worked for one of your target employers, reach out to them to see if you can have a Zoom or Skype conversation (better than email or texting).
Especially since the Coronavirus outbreak, networking via the internet has become much more popular and the most effective way to network for now.
Leveraging social networks to expand your network is essential today because these networks provide an enormous population of potential network members and a "safe" way to break the ice to connect or reconnect with people.
LinkedIn is the primary professional network, with close to 700 million members (in Q2 of 2020). Think of your LinkedIn profile as a very complete online business card.
Many people also have large networks on Facebook, which has over 2 billion members but a much less professional focus.
In countless surveys and research, including those conducted by Job-Hunt, networking is the dominant method used by successful job seekers. More than 75% of the time, networking is not how jobs are filled! NOT a job site. NOT an e-mailed resume -- at least not initially. NETWORKING!
If you have ever been responsible for hiring someone, you know it is a scary thing to do, particularly if your success -- as well as your job -- depends on the quality of the person YOU choose to hire.
So you approach hiring someone very cautiously. You want to hire::
AND (last but not least)
Finding that person can be challenging. Imagine reading (or, more likely, scanning) hundreds of resumes and applications to find the candidate who can do the job and fit into the organization. Easy? Definitely NOT!
Put yourself on the hiring manager's side of the desk. You have work that needs to be done, and must hire someone good to do that work.
The person will work for you, doing work that is important to your success and reputation.
If you hire someone who doesn't do well, you'll have to work harder to fix what they don't do well, and you'll have to explain to your boss why you picked that less-than-stellar employee, who will now be difficult to fire.
The impact of a "bad hire":
So, with your success and your job on the line, how do you find a good candidate to fill that job?
Which do you think would be the most effective way to find a good candidate for your open job?
When the whole process is over, you have two people to choose from:
So, both candidates seem well-qualified and professional.
Because hiring Michelle (known-quantity) appears to be safer than hiring than Louise (the stranger), you would do what everyone else usually does and choose the known-quantity. My bet is that you would hire Michelle, even though she is not quite the "perfect" candidate.
And, if Michelle had the same qualifications and made as impressive a presentation as Louise, the decision would be much easier. Michelle would definitely win.
This is called networking your way into a job! Learn more about How to Make Employee Referral Programs for You.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.
More about this author...