Did you know that most people’s first job out of college is usually found through a relative or close friend of a relative? It is a true fact, even in today’s digital world; person-to-person networking is still a most powerful tool.
What I find from my students is that when you tell them to start “networking” their eyes begin to roll a bit and I am sure they thinking, “What does she know?” But time and time again, this one principle of job hunting doesn’t let me, or better yet, it doesn’t let them down. All it takes is a plan and a process.

Getting Started

Start by making a list of everyone you know that could possibly have a contact in the working world. Divide it into relatives, friends, coworkers, friends of your family, neighborhood contacts, etc. I know that this is an overlooked part of the process, but hopefully there will be some list, even a short digital one to keep things moving along
Now start by talking first to your relatives. These are people who know you, but do they even know what you do? What you studied in college? Do they know what you want to do? This is your chance to practice a useful skill and also strengthen your relationships. How often do you really sit and talk to your aunt, uncle, or close relative? Really make the process fun and interview them to learn more about who they are so that they in turn can get to know the real you!

You can begin by asking some very simple questions.

1. Can you tell me what company you work for again and what you do?
2. How did you get started in this line of work?
3. How long have you been working for this company?
4. What are your plans for the next five to ten years?
5. Do you see yourself staying with this company? Where would you go?
6. What do you like about this company and your job?
7. What does a typical day look like?

First of all, you would be surprised at how one or two questions can spark a conversation (especially if you are interested in listening.) Most people don’t have the opportunity to share their work information with family members so your interest in them and what they do will spark their interest in you. Then suddenly, your aunt or uncle will begin asking you questions. Aren’t you attending college? When will you graduate? What career are you interested in pursuing? Now that’s a conversation!

Keeping Up the Momentum

Once you are comfortable talking, listening, asking and directing conversations it is time to really get the word out that you are looking for a job. This is where that list you started will really come in handy. People genuinely want to help other people, especially if it something they can help with. Asking them who they know that might be able offer more information about a certain career or at a certain company is an easy way for people to do something good.
So many people really resist using this technique to help them grow their network of contacts. It is easy to feel that you are bothering people, but think about how you would feel if someone asked you about your work and contacts, if you could help them, you would, and if you couldn’t then you can be honest and say you really would like to help but have no contacts that would help. There is no bother at all, just a conversation and exchange of information.

Gathering Information

When you network, you are seeking out information, advice, ideas, names, and references or referrals. You are not asking for jobs or anything uncomfortable so think of this process as research. These contacts can lead you to other contacts, who can ultimately lead to a job opening or at the very least, a good contact who will keep you in mind if they do hear of something. The key thing to remember about networking is that you are gathering information from people you know and trust. You are marketing yourself, and letting people know who you are, what you do and that you are also seeking employment.

Make Resolutions

Look back at all the people and parties you were at over the holidays and really think about everyone you saw and talked to. Make a list of who you can call and talk to again. Wish them a happy new year and let them know how great it was to see them. Now jump right into your goals for this year. Tell them what you hoping to do and then ask them if they know anyone you could speak to about their company or specific job role. The more people you talk with, the more you are likely to actually find an opening that is perfect for you.
Growing your personal network is something that will benefit you long after the Super Bowl is played. Think about making this process something stronger in the year ahead alongside all of those online applications you are sending. For every application online there are at least 100 resumes to go along with it, but when you reach out to people you know, you are one person that they will be interested to help. Making your job-hunting process more personal may just make all the difference in 2019. So good luck and enjoy the process!

For more help with networking and the job process take a moment to see if Check It Off! will help you out, Click here.

#jobhunting #networking #collegetocareer

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