Every job seeker will realize at some point in their search that they will need to learn new, and maybe not so comfortable, job search skills. Networking could be one job search task you are avoiding, but it is one skill that will increase your success. It may mean getting out of your comfort zone, but how far out depends on your definition of ‘networking’.
Networking is often confused with sales but if sales is a dirty word to you, you are probably sticking to simply firing off resumes to online postings, hoping for the best.
To accelerate your job search success, open your mind to this definition.
“Networking is the process of gathering, collecting, and distributing information for the mutual benefit of you and the people in your network.” (Source: Power Networking. 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success by Donna Fisher & Sandy Vilas).
No need to be aggressive and impersonal. All you have to do is get to know more people outside of your current network. The research supports that this is the best way to get leads.
In a 1973 landmark study called, The Strength of Weak Ties, Mark Granovetter of John Hopkins University, found that the best leads for job opportunities are more likely to come from your more distant acquaintances (weak ties) rather than your close friends (strong ties). Why? As explained by Cornell professors, David Easley and Jon Kleinberg in Networks, Crowds, and Markets, “The closely-knit groups that you belong to, though they are filled with people eager to help, are also filled with people who know roughly the same things that you do.” The point: our distant acquaintances have the ability to expose you to job openings that you and your friends just can’t know about.
It’s less about selling yourself and more about developing mutually beneficial relationships. You are networking for advice and information, you are not asking for favours or jobs. Networking in this way will certainly enrich your life, is less frightening, yet still very effective for job seekers.
In order to network, you do have to feel good enough to get out there and meet people. Don’t neglect your own self-care. Take care of yourself, take breaks, and be kind to yourself. Your inner networker will shine through and help you get the job you want.