Laurie was tired of working in a retail environment and was itching to secure a long-term position that she would enjoy. After asking around to some friends and family, she discovered that a fellow member of her church congregation worked in the HR field. She forwarded her resume and thanks to his referral, was hired as an Administrative Assistant with a local company. She is still employed at the same company 5 years later.
Melanie had recently completed a minor in Animal Biology. Animals were her passion and she dreamed of securing employment in her field. Through a local Business event, her boyfriend met a Recruitment Manager who recommended forwarding her resume. A couple days later, a Customer Service position came available at a High-End Pet Food Manufacturer, which happened to be the same company she had envisioned. She was hired.
Bill owned a small start-up software firm, but was looking for a big break. His mother, Mary, was well connected and sat on the board of a charitable organization with the CEO of a large computer manufacturer. She mentioned her son’s company and a few weeks later, they took a chance and suddenly this small firm secured the contract to develop the operating system for the first personal computer made by this manufacturer.
These 3 real-life examples share a common thread, the Power of Networking. In the first 2 (with the names changed), I was actually the person approached who was able to assist in finding employment. The last example was Bill Gates and his start-up company, Microsoft. His mother sat on the board of United Way. The large manufacturer was I.B.M. 35 years and many billions of dollars later, history tells the tale. These stories could be echoed by many others.
I know, I know… we have all heard the saying “It is not what you know, but who you know”. Usually it is spoken with somewhat of a sneer to label someone whose skills may have been less, but due to their connections, obtained a position that was not rightfully theirs. Of course, there are those who are born into a certain social space and therefore benefit without proper experience, knowledge or work ethic. However a significant majority of successful people come from humble beginnings, yet have worked to grow solid, beneficial social relationships which enable their careers or businesses to propel forward.
The truth is that each of us already utilize networks to our advantage in some fashion. Whether it be connecting with a distant relative to get honest auto repairs done at a low cost or no cost, rallying your friends to assist with your move to a new apartment, or even something as minor as getting input on a good TV show to watch, involving your close or extended network saves you time, money, and provides you with a better quality of life. Why not intentionally engage and expand on these when it comes to your job search?
According to career experts, most job openings, possibly up to 80%, are represented in the “hidden job market” and never advertised. Through networking and word-of-mouth, you hold the key to an untapped field of possibilities. Instead of envying those who manage to network their way to the “perfect job”, why not dive in and start the hard work of building solid career altering connections. Whether it be an entry level, full-time position in a stable company or whether it be a multi-billion contract born out of small beginnings, networking works… if you work it!!
Without further ado (drum roll please…), let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of where to begin. Here are a few basic suggestions for your consideration:
Family & Friends
Your family and friends know you and in most cases, will want to assist you. Contact them to advise of your situation and inquire if they can help you in finding employment. While they might not be able to directly offer you a position, at the very least, they become additional eyes and ears to identify open positions that you might not be aware of.
Hopefully, you didn’t burn any bridges at your previous places of employment, because they are also a valuable place to start. Begin with your references, as you will want to contact them to ensure you can continue to use their information, and then reach out to all previous co-workers with whom you have had strong relationships. Whether they are still there or even if they have moved on to different pastures, they can be a valuable resource.
Social media tools serve multiple purposes.
- They “brand” who you are to the world. Tailor your profiles to convey the fact that you are hard-working, knowledgeable, reliable, connected, etc.
- Connect and interact with key contacts from companies you would like to work with.
- Promote the fact that you are looking for work and ask for help from your extended network.
Do a “Google” search for business networking events in your area. Most ongoing events charge a fee, but have an initial opportunity for you to attend as a guest.
Keep your eyes and ears open for any events that are advertising in the local newspaper or online ads.
Participating in local charity is a great way to meet leaders in the community, while also doing good. It also provides an unique opportunity to demonstrate who you are in a shared activity outside of the normal scope of business.
Each community has multiple venues in which you can assist, but a few places to start are your local Food Bank, United Way, Rotary Club or Optimist Club.
About the Author
Nathan Porter is the Owner of 4Sight Search Solutions Inc, a virtual recruitment & search firm, with a focus on supporting multiple markets across Canada. Using his strong management and recruitment background, he delivers service excellence and top-talent to many local companies. When he is not stirring up trouble with his competitive nature or his witty sense of humour, he enjoys community involvement, reading, sports or hiking/biking.