As a Career Coach I have worked with many career coaching clients who have successfully used networking to get a job ahead of their competition. In many cases they did not initially understand what networking was all about, or how to go about doing it. Some were also concerned that networking would be difficult and may mean ‘cold calling’ or just taking from others. By using the tips in this guide networking can be fun, easy and effective. It will never mean ‘cold calling’ and should always create a longer term two-way relationship.
Around 70% of management positions are filled through networking, whilst only 30% are filled by recruitment agencies and online job sites. Yet many people seem to spend 70% of their time sending out CVs or posting them on to job sites. Stop and think for a moment. Most managers prefer to avoid the time and expense of going externally to recruit if they have met someone, or have someone recommended to them that could fill the job. You may have recruited to fill positions yourself – what did you prefer? So the overall aim of networking is to make sure you are the person a line manager remembers, or has recommended to him or her for a job.
Who is your Network?
Many career coaching clients think they do not have a network, or that they only know a few people who may be able to help them. But this is not the case; your network is everyone you know – your friends, relatives, contacts from your company, external suppliers, people who share your interests such as members of your golf club. When working with career coaching clients I challenge them to create a starting list with 100 names – most can do this quite easily when they think about networking in this way.
Approaching your Initial Network
You want to use your network to gather information about companies, other useful contacts and likely areas of opportunity. You should also be using them to get feedback on your CV. What you should not do is ring them up and say ‘I’m out of a job do you know of any vacancies?’ The answer will probably be – ‘I don’t want to waste your time. I’m not aware of any vacancies’. The most effective approach (which may vary by contact) should be that you are looking for a new role in a particular sector (name it) and you are looking get some information on it, plus you would like to get some feedback on your CV. By getting feedback on your CV you can improve it, but perhaps more importantly the other person will read it and it may prompt them to think about someone who might be interested in you.
Ask for 20 – 30 minutes of their time over a coffee to ‘pick their brain’. When you meet ensure that as part of your agenda you ask them if there is anyone else they think it would be worth you talking to. It is important you ask them if they could send that person an email or call them so that the individual is expecting a call and you are not ‘filtered out’ by a Secretary.
Career coaching clients that have used this approach to networking have seen a significant improvement in the number of job opportunities that cme to light.
The Second Layer of Network
It is often the people in this second layer of network that are most helpful. Once you know that an introduction has been made give the person a call. Explain that (name) suggested that the person may be able to help you. Explain what help you are looking for and ask if he/she can fit a time in their diary for a 30 minute meeting over a coffee. Ask if it would be alright to send your CV as you would like to get feedback on it when you meet. Most people take it as a compliment that someone has suggested they can help you and therefore it is very rare that people will say no to a meeting. In our career coaching practice none of our clients who follow this approach have been refused a meeting.
When it comes to the day of the meeting make sure you have a clear purpose. It is likely the first question you will be asked is something like ‘what would be most helpful for you to get out of the meeting today?’ Use a similar approach to the initial network meetings. You may be looking for information on the sector, particular types of jobs in the sector, specific skills that are highly valued and feedback on your CV. At the end of the meeting ask if there is anyone else in the company or elsewhere that the person you are meeting with recommends you should speak to. Again ask them if they could make an introduction for you.
Make sure you remember you are showcasing yourself. So turn up in the appropriate business dress and leave a positive impression. Stick to the meeting time agreed and do not let it over run.
Keep a list of the people you have met and give them a call around every three months to let them know how things are going. This will ensure you maintain your relationship and stay fresh in their memory.
I know, as do my career coaching clients, that networking is the single most effective route to getting a new job. It does take time and energy, but it should be enjoyable. It means people will remember you when there is a possible vacancy and that will put you ahead of your competition. As I said at the start networking is a two-way process. So you should be prepared to help out your contacts in the same way as they help you. You may find when you are in a job that someone gives you a call and asks you to help out a colleague with some information. Always make the time to do this.
Keywords; Career Coaching, Career Coaching Company, Career Coach, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Services, Career Coaching Provider, Networking
Keywords: Business Networking, career coach, Career Coaching, Career Coaching Clients, Career Coaching Company, Career Coaching Provider, Career Coaching Services, executive-coaching, getting a job, networking
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