Author Randall Craig has written about networking. He says that it's smart
to start by defining what networking is not. Craig says that networking is
not just making small talk, despite people thinking that's what it is a lot
of the time. And he says it's not simply getting someone to introduce you
to their connections.
"What networking is, is developing your reputation, finding out how you
can help others, and then doing it, and making it so that there's a deeper
and stronger relationship of trust between you and the people you're meeting,"
So, why should you network? It goes beyond just finding a job. It can help
you find your calling in life.
"[Networking] can give you support," says Craig. "It can get you a job.
But more importantly, for students, it will let you know an awful lot more
about what's out there. If you're trying to figure out what you're built for,
what you should be doing next, networking is a critical component of that."
To build a network, it's important to pay attention to what the people
you're talking with are actually saying. Go deeper, really listen; it will
pay off later.
"When networking, I recommend that people invest their time getting to
know what they have in common with other people," says Josephine Vaccaro-Chang,
the founder and president of a women's networking group. "Once the other people
know that you are sincere in helping them, they will be more likely to help
you achieve your goals."
Craig says that networking is a critical component of getting a job. Many
jobs aren't advertised. Instead, they simply become available through word
of mouth, through knowing people... through networking. And it can all come
down to simple numbers. Once the numbers in your network start to add up,
your chances of finding those unlisted jobs add up, too.
"If you've got 100 people in your network, people you know are supportive
of you, what if each of those 100 people... [gets] their network working for
you? That's 10,000 people," says Craig. "So, is it easier to get a job with
just one of you or 10,000 of you? Even if you don't have a network of 100
people, the numbers still multiply."
What about people who say networking doesn't pay off for them? Josh Hinds
is a speaker and author who talks and writes about, among other things, networking.
He says that those people are going about it all wrong.
"People who say having a network of people has never really paid off for
them, a lot of that is because the only time they really tried to tap into
these people is when they were behind the 8 ball, when they needed it, and
they hadn't really built any goodwill. So, that wouldn't be any different
than if you asked anybody for a favor and you'd never been there for them."
Hinds says that networking is an important way to not only land jobs, but
to find yourself being considered for jobs that you don't even know exist
"In some instances, and I've seen this a lot," he says, "if a company has
a thought in their mind that they might like to open up a position, or they
just like what a person is about, I've seen them create positions based on
having those people in there. Unless you're developing these relationships,
you're not in the fold."
A huge part of networking today happens online through social networking
sites like Facebook and professional sites like LinkedIn. But it's still essential
to meet someone in person, and it's good to do it early on in the networking
"Meeting someone in person is very important, as you have the opportunity
to learn how you can help others achieve their goals," says Vaccaro-Chang.
"Once you have established this initial contact then maintaining the relationship
via telephone or online is the most efficient way to keep in touch."
The Internet is an increasingly important part of networking, but one that
has its own unique problems. For example, things you post on a social networking
site may be inappropriate for people in your job network to see. But you may
be connected with them on that site. Keep that in mind and don't post things
that might get in the way of your job hunting!
"Too often, younger people are disqualifying themselves from positions
because of the way they're using social networks," says Craig. As Craig points
out, another problem is people gathering friends on sites like Facebook, but
not having any real connection with them. It's not much of a network unless
you're putting some work into making those connections count.
"Sometimes people mistake the number of Facebook friends they have with
real relationships with depth, where people are looking out for you, and vice
versa," he says. "Social-networking sites are a neat way to categorize and
connect with people that you know, but are those people really in your network?
Have you really added value to them? Saying 'happy birthday' on their birthday
is a nice thing to do, but all these other people have done that, too."
While you still need to have the skills to begin with, networking does
matter. Do it in person, do it online, and do it appropriately: make it work