Job seekers are confused about networking and therefore doubt its effectiveness. Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Like anything else, networking requires a bit of practice and finesse, but if done correctly, networking can be an invaluable part of your job search campaign.

Here are a few tips that can help develop a network that works for you:

Be Patient

Networking doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process. Networking is not just something you can check off your job search list like “Send resume to Pfizer.”

While people may want to help you, they might not be able to do so right away. Yite simply, you may not be the first item on their list. Never let an opportunity to meet with someone to network.

Be Authentic and Kind

Find ways to reconnect periodically with the contacts in your network to stay up to date with their lives and let them know that you genuinely care about what is going on with them. Reinforcement of the time and advice offered by those in your network will foster gratefulness, awareness of their value to you and encourage them to continue helping you and others.

When you do meet with someone resulting from your scheduling attempts, take a sincere interest in their life, not just the information or possible assistance they can offer you. Networking means fostering relationships.

Be a Conduit

Remember, the objective of networking is more networking. Open up your network to others. Think about those contacts who could help others in your network, then introduce them!

Be a Teacher

Not everyone you meet will understand what networking is or how they can help you. Many people think that the best way they can assist you as a job seeker is to take your resume and pass it along to their human resources department. While their intentions are noble, their strategy won’t help you and could wind up being counter-productive and, consequently, losing you an excellent job.

HR managers, like recruiters, are sometimes only motivated to take action on your resume if there is a current job opening within the organization that matches your skills. They have no incentive to contact you, and the connection is lost if a position is not available.

Rather than giving your contacts a resume, ask them if they could introduce you to a member of their company so that you can learn more about their industry, position, and organization. This way, you’ll learn more about the company, share information about yourself, and begin to build a relationship rather than ending up as just another resume lost at the bottom of the pile.

If you have information about a particular company, industry, or educational program that would be valuable to someone in your network, share it. By sharing, you will help others, and in turn, others will help you.

Whether you’re currently employed or job-seeking is irrelevant – networking is a constant process. You’ll be more on the receiving end of your contacts’ information when you’re on the look-out for a new job. That just means you need to work that much harder at giving information and sharing your network while happily employed.

They’ll be much more likely to help you in return if you’re continually looking for ways to help people in your network achieve their goals.

©David Turner, Wordscapes®