As for the three common elements of networking that we learned from different sources, this is a summary of what they had to say:
There really is a hidden job market and networking is the path to it. There are valid reasons why this is true. The hidden job market contains, newly created positions that may still be in concept stages, old jobs that are unfilled, jobs created through normal attrition, planned expansion and the positions it creates, new jobs that have not been advertised yet, and always the new project stored in the mind of the decision maker just waiting for the right person to come along to fit its role and make the idea a reality.
No other person can do this for you, as attractive as hiring a recruiter may sound, it isn’t the best way, most recruiters work for client companies and will not let you hire them anyway. If you want the best job, personal marketing is the best way to get it. You must talk to people, and it must be you who does the talking, there are no shortcuts to this process.
Successful Networking is a carefully planned strategy, don’t believe – fail! Everything you do in life has a better opportunity to succeed if you have a plan. The networking aspect of your job search is not an exception. A successful networking campaign will consist of certain functions:
Create your own contact list start with people you know, or know of.
Create a list of Companies, the places you would most like to work
Make contact with people and arrange to meet with them
Prepare for each meeting, polish your shoes and your interview skills
Interestingly, our experts assured us that this networking strategy can and should begin with people you know – let them lead you to people you don’t know. If you follow this theory, you are never cold calling, but simply following up on referrals by mutual acquaintances or colleagues in common.
One Career Manager with whom we spoke suggested that a job seeker start with their own personal contact list. Among those he suggested be on the list are relatives, insurance agents, financial planners, Civic Club Members, travel agents, physicians, attorneys, teachers, store managers, former employers, vendor/suppliers, former or current colleagues, church members and certainly neighbors. Our Professional went on to say that you should never discount a lead, never consider anyone unimportant in your job search, everyone knows someone. There is just no way to predict which lead may be the big one, or prove the most valuable, any of them could be the one to put you in front of the right decision maker.
Remember that networking is a process with a specific purpose, an anticipated outcome and a quantifiable result. Every networking meeting should “net” three or more new referrals.