The key to successful networking is to use your available resources to market yourself and try and uncover hidden job opportunities. Often, finding opportunities in this way can give you a real advantage over other suitable candidates. There isn't anything complex about networking and it should be a key aspect of the job search process.
Use existing networks
One of the best resources available to a job seeker is the people they know. When you are looking for a job, you should let the influential people around you know about your qualifications and the type of job you are looking for. Make a list of friends and family who are employed, present and past co-workers, bosses, even teachers. After you have compiled your list, contact them by phone, letter or email. The process should be relatively informal, since you already have an association with these people. Some ideas for key questions you can ask are:
- Do you know how I can begin working in x?
- Can you recommend people for me to talk to?
- Do you know of anyone who employs people with skills like mine?
You may want to include your CV as a reference, or as a sales tool in case your contact wants to forward your details on to other associates.
Build new networks
Networking to people you don't know is also key to a successful job search. Many companies have stands at industry trade shows where you can talk to employees and apply for jobs on the day. Find out the industry trade shows in your area (through the Internet, or trade publications) and try to attend as many as you can. Make sure when you go that you have prepared some key questions to ask, and have an up-to-date CV with you.
In addition, find out the names of recruiters or HR professionals in key companies where you want to work. Once you have a list, write to the person and ask them for some advice or an interview to learn more about the company. You should be using this contact as a networking opportunity, so try and get job leads and make connections should they agree. Have your CV ready in case they ask to see it.