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Networking is the activity where you build relationships with people who may be in a position to help you achieve your goals. The job market can be highly competitive, and a large part of it is "hidden" or "closed", i.e. not available to the average job seeker. Thus, having an effective network is often crucial when it comes to finding a job that suits you and that you are well suited for. Indeed, without connecting with other persons, it is difficult to accomplish all those small steps of which careers are built. These can be becoming aware of opportunities, getting access to people in key positions or, simply, getting the information you need in order to assess different courses of action and make up your mind as to what you really want to do. Establishing and maintaining an effective network - getting people who are in a position to lend a helping hand to actually take the time to do so - demands persistent work. However, successful networkers can also rely on help and expertise that prevent them from fumbling in the dark.
- Networking should be something you do with everyone, everywhere and all the time.
- Find techniques that work for you in order to overcome shyness.
- Show genuine interest in the people you meet. One excellent way to do this is to ask open questions (using words like, who, what, where, when, how and why, instead of asking closed questions that lead to a simple "yes" or "no" or to other single-word answers. Not only do people like to spark the interest of others, you'll also be surprised by how much you learn when you seek out the long answers.
- Have a clear view of what your goals are. Without a strategy, it is difficult to know who to seek out and what to answer when someone asks "How may I help you?"
- Seek out places where you can cultivate a common interest with the people you wish to reach (meetings of professional organizations, charity events, volunteer experiences, sports, etc.)
- Become valuable to others – lend a helping hand whenever you can, reveal yourself to be trustworthy.
- Keep in mind that when people refer you to someone (this is of real value because you step out of anonymity), they expect you not to embarrass them.
- Follow up on previous contacts. Show gratitude, give updates on your progress (people have invested time in you), take time to have lunch – show that you care for them as individuals.
Make a list of the type of people who might be of use to a job seeker.
Open and Closed Questions
- Require only yes or no or short answer (but can of course be answered with a longer answer).
- Easy to answer.
- Give facts.
- Useful when opening a conversation, especially with someone you don’t know.
- You keep control of the conversation.
- Are you new here?
- Do you live in London?
- Do you like sushi?
- It’s cold today, isn’t it?
- It was a useful meeting, wasn’t it?
- Are more likely to receive longer answers.
- Give more information about a topic.
- Useful when getting to know more about someone.
- You have less control of the conversation.
- Usually start with words like, who, what, why, how, where.
- What do you think of our new offices?
- Why didn’t you apply for the job?
- What did you do on holiday this year?
- How are you feeling this morning?
- How do you find time to go to the gym three times a week?
Change these closed questions to open questions:
- Do you find it too warm here in the summer?
- Do you find time to go to the gym, often?
- Is this an interesting place to work?
- I’m very impressed by the new i-Pad, are you?
- Is there a good company canteen?
- Do you like working alone?
- Dreadful weather, isn’t it?
- You’re new here, aren’t you?
- Is that a comfortable chair to sit in?
- Is it difficult to get a job in this company?
- Are you satisfied with your new car?
- Do you like this hotel?