Building a Network

As established in my earlier blog, if you want a job you need a network. Networks account for the vast majority of new hires every year. Your greatest chance at successfully getting a new job is through a network.

Great, so how do you get one of those network things?

A network consists of everyone you know and have a relationship with. So, if your only acquaintance in the world is thorshammer1701, and that world happens to be World of Warcraft, then your job hunt may be a bit tricky.

But, if you went to school and received a degree, that’s a good place to start. Your former classmates are in the same field as you are which puts them in the best position to recommend you for jobs. Even if you’re just out of school, many of those schoolmates had internships that led to full-time positions and possibly know of other opportunities within their companies. If not, perhaps they’re being headhunted and can pass your name along to the hunter. They may have passed on another job recently that you can take advantage of instead.

If you’re looking to switch careers, then your school network might not be as helpful. You’ll have to start building relationships with the myriad of people you meet in your everyday life. Start by throwing your hand out to people and introducing yourself. Hand out business cards and collect them as well. Contact these people to follow up on your conversations and keep contacting them every few weeks. Let them know you are in the market for a new job, but don’t ask them specifically if they know of openings. All you need to do is plant the seed in their head that you’re out there. You’ll also want to keep these contacts fresh, nothing annoys a person more than not hearing from a friend for two years and then only when they need something.

The best time to build a network is before you’re looking for a job. You’ll want it in place for when you do start the hunt, that way it’ll be so much easier for you when you do. Also, even after you land that new job continue to keep the network active. You never know when you may need it again.

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Time for a Career Change?

It’s time for a little cubicle anthropology. We all love to do it so don’t be shy about it. If Marlon Perkins was still alive doing Mutual of Omaha, he surely would have run through the entire animal kingdom and refocused his energy on the different breeds of workers throughout the corporate world. So, in the interest of science, take a quick look around and see if you can spot the following co-worker “types.”

The Complainer

These are the easiest to spot because they are by nature the most vocal. The complainer isn’t just resistant to change; they’re resistant to any slight variation in their lives. One degree warmer or cooler can set them off. Everything from the color of the boss’s tie to texture of the carpet is fair game to these folks. They have a touch of the drama queen to them as well, often blowing mundane issues into gargantuan problems.

The Argumentative Type

Similarly vocal, and therefore just as easy to spot, the argumentative types have an opinion on everything. Every corporate policy change, decision by the boss or choice made by a co-worker – whether it’s business or personal – will be wrong; dead wrong. And they’ll be more than happy to tell you exactly why everyone else is wrong – for the next hour and a half.

The Over-Stressed

Bleary eyed and usually chewing through two pencils a day, the over-stressed are just as easily identified. They jump whenever they hear their name and then twitch involuntarily. Cubicle neighbors are annoyed by the constant cracking of their necks and backs or the drumming of their fingers on the desk. Severe cases have been known to contract sudden onset, late in life stuttering. It’s bizarre.

The Uncommonly Bored

Look for a person who has rearranged their cubicle or office so that his or her computer screen can’t be viewed by unwanted snoopers. You just found yourself someone who is uncommonly bored at work. They’ve arranged their screens in such a way that no one can see the internet sites they are visiting instead of performing any actual work. The uncommonly bored also run the risk of extreme paranoia over whether an IT employee is actually tracking and logging the Internet sites they visit on their computer.

The Flat-Out Disgruntled

It’s best to avoid this type entirely.

All of these types need to seriously consider switching jobs or careers. Most Americans do it an average of three times throughout their lives and it’s time these people contributed to the statistic.

But, here’s the obligatory Law & Order twist. The one you knew was coming but just couldn’t quite predict what it would be. If other co-workers are playing the same game right now, and identifying you as one of these types – it’s time for you to think about a career change as well.

Importance of Networking

I’m a traditionalist. When, as a young lad, I set out to find a job I did it the only way I knew how: I looked for a “Now Hiring” sign in a store’s window, then went in and filled out an application. I got my first job that way. It worked for me once and if something works for me I stick with it.

After graduating college, I was a bit surprised to find out that most places who would hire a writer didn’t advertise that job in their window. Not that I blame them, most of those windows were several stories above the sidewalk so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to advertise for jobs that way.

Obviously, a new strategy would need to be devised. Books needed to be purchased; words needed to be read; information needed to be obtained.

What did I learn? That networking was the number one way to find a job. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor, 70% of all jobs are found through a personal network

 

A network starts with family, friends, school chums – anyone you know who has a job and who is in a position to either inform you of an open job or possibly recommend you for a position at his or her company. But, the genius part is that it can extend beyond your immediate circle out to friends of friends of friends; expanding into a ripe grapevine of possibilities.

 

The power of this network lies within the personal recommendation. If a company values its employee and his or her work, then they’ll value his or her opinion when suggesting a new employee. Especially since their employee risks his or her standing in the company to make that recommendation.

You can also reverse the flow and allow this to work in your favor. Not only is that person in your network recommending you to the company, they’re recommending the company to you. Instead of taking up too much of your time researching the company, you have an insider who can tell you what it’s like to work there; what the people are like, how do the managers treat their employees, etc.

This information arms you very well for the interview. You’ll be able to answer questions with a focus towards the company and even offer ideas on how things may be improved.

There’s no downside to networking. It works for employers and for jobseekers. The key, then, is to build an effective network that serves you best. More on that later…