How do you improve your financial situation?
- Reduce spending.
- Increase income.
I, more frequently than not, focus on the “reduce spending” part of the equation. But what about the increasing income aspect? And where does networking fall into line?
I have previously posted on different networking methods. The article went over Myspace (some would say the site that started the frenzy), Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you aren’t already aware, LinkedIn is the professional networking site of choice. You find less pictures of people doing keg stands and more job postings and professional groups.
That’s good and all, but is that what networking is all about? Sign up for a website, friend random people as you bump into them either in the real world or on the internet, and then keep tabs on them until you need them? Absolutely not.
If that is what you consider networking, you would do yourself justice to scrap that definition. A better definition of networking, and a much more effective approach, is the utilization of contacts you already have, like friends, family, and co-workers.
Why is Networking Important?
Some experts estimate that an average of 50% to 75% of jobs are found through networking. These are jobs that you will rarely see posted on a website or in the classifieds. They are applied to directly via networking.
However, people often overlook the vast importance of networking. And even some people who understand the importance of networking go about it all wrong. They cold call recruiters, talk to every stranger they can and hand out a business card, or do a resume drop on more employers then they can count on both hands.
How to Utilize Your Network
So, now that we’ve gone over what not to do, how should you use your network?
First, I would create a social network map. You should list the networks you belong to (educational, employment, religious, athletic, social, etc) with people you know from each network. If there are any big value names that are active or passive connections, make sure to outline them.
Second, do NOT treat everyone the same. A professional contact is not a personal contact, as the name implies. If you go to a personal contact, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a favor or a hookup. With a professional contact, networking is not about asking for favors. It is about mutual conversation between two people. If each person has something they can do to benefit the other person, a trade of favors may be in order. This isn’t always the case, but you shouldn’t walk into the situation expecting that you will get a favor outright.
Third, get out there and really re-energize your network. Call people you haven’t talked to in a while. Take professional contacts out to lunch to catch up and keep yourself fresh on their mind. Attend alumni events to meet more people. Join a professional association and become active in the meetings.
Tie Up Your Loose Ends and Get a Job
During a recession, it is more important than ever to get all of your loose ends tied up. Unemployment rates are up and you want to do anything you can to ensure that you have a way to put food on the table.
God forbid you get fired, do you want to be just like everyone else? Wake up, go to Monster.com, compete with the majority of the unemployed population for what little jobs are out there.
I wouldn’t want to be that guy. I would want to be one of the guys getting a chance at 50-75% of jobs most people never hear about.
The decision is yours, but let me know how networking has helped advance your career!