That word seems to scare many people. In their minds it conjures up images of glad-handing Multi-Level-Marketing salespeople who wants to show their “plan” with the “perfect” opportunity for you without knowing anything about you. Or it draws memories of the brother in-law who became a life insurance agent and has been haranguing every distant family member for months to buy a new policy from him.
Those bad memories are caricatures of networking or sales, and not the image you would create by effective networking for a new job.
Don’t hide from the people that can help you! Here are some thoughts and some practical help to do it right…
Especially now, there is no shame in losing your job! Often, I hear people say they don’t tell others they are looking for a job because they are embarrassed over being unemployed. Too often they blame themselves somehow when in fact market conditions can make anyone a casualty of a lay-off. When companies are forced to make drastic cuts in their expenses, they often have to cut broadly and deeply. Often they will cut a whole department, or a straight percentage from every department. The decisions of who stays and who goes are often made very arbitrarily with the bottom-line the primary concern. Survival of the company is more important than cutting carefully with a scalpel.
Over the past 2 years, virtually everyone recognizes that no one is immune. There is no stigma to a lay-off as there may have been years ago. There is no need for embarrassment, or shame. It is what it is and generally people don’t view your unemployment as a reflection on you, but rather a sign of the times. I was told of someone recently that didn’t tell his wife that he had been laid-off for 3 weeks. He rose, dressed and left for ‘work’ each morning just as he always had so his wife wouldn’t suspect, but spent his day at a coffee shop. Now that’s stealth, and not at all a good idea.
Who do you tell? Everyone! You never know where your best leads will come from, and usually they come from the most unlikely sources. Make a list of everyone you know. Studies show that most people, on average, know more than 350 people. Create lists in groups to help jog your memory. List ALL your family members, close and extended. List friends. List ALL your previous co-workers from everywhere you’ve worked. List service providers like your doctor, accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, dry cleaner, mail carrier, etc. List other parents on your kids’ sports teams. List other parents you know from your kids’ school. List people you know at church, temple, or mosque. List people you know from former vendors, customers, trade associations, user groups, or professional associations. List alumni from your schools. Hopefully, you get the idea… make lists of everyone you know!
Then gather contact information… find where they work on LinkedIn, call the main number of the company and call them. Gather email addresses if you have them. Google their name to find something of theirs with contact information. Use resources like Jigsaw.com, ZoomInfo, or the phone book!
What do you say? That will vary with how you know them, how well you know them, and what position they hold. However, as a general rule, one thing you don’t want to say is: “Do you know of a job opening?” The vast majority of people you talk to will not know of something off-hand and then the conversation becomes awkward and cut short.
As a suggestion:
“I’m connecting with everyone I know in order to network effectively to find a new position. I realize you may not know of a specific open position in my field. However, I figure my job while I’m looking is to keep adding links to my chain of people, connecting one to another until I find the right opportunity.
I’m hoping you may be able to give me names of a couple of people that you know that would be worthwhile for me to talk to… either anyone else you know in my field, someone that you might reach out to if you were in my situation, someone that just seems to know a lot of people, or anyone you know at companies that seem to be doing well.
I’d be grateful for any specific job leads if you know of one, however, I’m really only hoping for the next couple of links in my chain.”
People can’t help you if they don’t know you are looking! Don’t keep your job hunt under wraps. Let everyone you know you are looking, touch base with them regularly (every 4 to 6 weeks), and keep adding to the links in your chain until you reach someone with the right opportunity for you
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.