New Canaan CaTS

Career Transition Support Group

New Canaan CaTS © 2016  |  All Rights Reserved

111 & 178 Oenoke New Canaan CT 06840 US              +1.203-952-4084  

Your Networking

What is Networking?

Networking is a skill, usually practiced in a one-on-one, face-to-face meeting, that you use all the time as you ask questions to get information about almost any subject. 

Networking is an essential part of any successful job search.  In fact, a high percentage of all job offers are the direct result of the successful candidate’s networking efforts through a targeted individual into a targeted company. 

Nevertheless, you must always remember that “Networking is not about what a contact can do for you.  Networking is all about how you can help each other.”   

Why Should I Network?

To communicate information about yourself, your job search, your strengths, skills, core competencies, and how you add value to an organization. 

  •  To get feedback on your job search and your Written Job Search Plan, including your target industries, and your target companies.
  •  To create rapport and be remembered, thus creating your own army of contacts who can serve as your “eyes and ears” in the job market. 
  •  To get ideas about where and how to explore elsewhere.
  •  To get help, and to give help.

How Should I Network?

Begin by making two lists of everyone you know:

Business Acquaintances

  • Supervisors, peers, and reports from all your previous jobs
  • Others you have known as customers, clients, competitors, suppliers, distributors or consultants
  • People in agencies, financial services, media or associations

Social Acquaintances

  • Family
  • Friends--  past and present
  • People in the community, in volunteer work, at church, at the club, from school or college, including professors and coaches, doctors, dentists, bankers, financial advisors and lawyers
  •  The CaTS team

From these lists, check off the names of people who:

  • You like
  • You trust
  • Can help validate your Self Assessment
  • Can add value to your Personal Job Search Plan, including your:
  1. Written Job Plan
  2. Elevator Pitch
  3. Resume

​Are familiar with your target industries, and can provide detailed industry information.
Are familiar with your target companies, and can provide detailed company information.
Know managers in your target companies, and might be able to refer you inside.

Now that you have a list of networking targets, it is time to begin contacting them:

Organize and prioritize your Circle of Acquaintances in terms of how their backgrounds and knowledge fit your information needs.
Identify 6 – 8 people you are most comfortable with, so that initially you can hone your networking skills in a less stressful environment.
Contact these people, preferably by phone, to set up a 30-minute meeting at their office or home.  When you start getting referrals to people that you do not know, you can precede the call with an explanatory letter, if it makes you more comfortable.
Develop a networking plan which contains ten networking meetings per week.

Once a networking meeting is scheduled, the key to effective networking is the agenda you set for your time with your contact.  You are in control of the discussion and responsible for making it productive.  Identify before the meeting what information you want to obtain, and craft your agenda accordingly:

Introduce yourself, if you do not know the person, and identify the name of the person who referred you.
Level with the contact.  Tell her / him that you are exploring new career opportunities and need help and advice.
If your feel it is appropriate, assure the contact that you understand that she / he does not have a job for you, nor does she / he know of a job for you.
Explain what information or knowledge you want and what you can provide in return.
Outline how you plan to use the 30 minute meeting, and confirm the contact’s agreement.

At the end of the meeting:

Ask the contact if she / he would be willing to refer you to 2-3 personal contacts who might be helpful to you in your job search.
Get all of the necessary information to make these referrals happen, including name, title, and contact information.  Make this happen now.  Calling the contact later to get names  dilutes the whole point of the networking meeting.
Summarize any agreed-upon next steps and timing.
After the meeting, always send a thank you note (e-mail is perfectly acceptable) summarizing your conversation and re-stating any agreed-upon next steps and timing.
It is also a good idea to send an e-mail to the individual who referred you to the contact,  briefly telling them what transpired in the meeting, and thanking them for the reference.

Other Networking Tips

Your Written Job Search Plan, your Elevator Pitch, or your Resume can often be used as introduction for a networking meeting, or to guide the discussion
During a networking meeting, listen carefully for names of other people from whom you might get more insights.  Ask your contact if she / he would be willing to refer you to those people.  Try to get two to three names form each contact.
If you sense that you are building a strong rapport during a networking meeting, ask your contact to consider not just referring you to others, but joining with you in the subsequent networking meeting with her / his referrals.
After a networking meeting, always send a thank you note summarizing your conversation and re-stating any agreed-upon next steps and timing.
To keep your network fresh, consider sending quarterly e-mails to all of your contacts, summarizing the progress you are making in your job search.  Be sure to keep the tone of the e-mail very upbeat, not pessimistic.  This is a great way to restore your “top of mind” awareness among your contacts, some of whom may have forgotten you or assumed that you had already landed a new job.
Networking experts will tell you that aggressive networking--  as many as ten meetings a week--  will dramatically shorten the duration of any job search.  In fact, a 1999 survey done by Drake Beam Morin, a major career counseling form, shows that in a sample of 7,200 people, 64% found a new opportunity through networking.
Those new to networking are often very uncomfortable with the notion of approaching a stranger, and asking for something.  Our advice--  do not think in those terms!  Think of the networking encounter as an opportunity to ask for help, and reciprocate by asking the contact how you can help her / him. 
To reinforce, do not ask your networking contact for a job.  The odds are miniscule that she / he even knows of any positions.  In networking, there is not a specific, identifiable job or work opportunity involved in the discussion.
Get an appointment software program to keep track of names, addresses, background information, and the results and actions you have taken with each person you meet.  Assess this information every week or ten days to be sure you are getting referrals that are leading to work opportunities. 
Always exude enthusiasm by being prepared, well dressed, and physically in shape.  Put a  smile on your face.  Whatever you are looking for is probably out there.  Networking is the best way to find it