Business Networking
A Guide to Business Networking: Job seekers’ top priority when looking for new employment.
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A Guide to Business Networking: Job seekers’ top priority when looking for new employment.

Business networking is one of the most powerful tools job seekers have to help them locate new employment opportunities. The sad fact is, however, that many people don’t know how to engage in effective business networking! This article is an introduction to networking for job seekers who need a little help getting started in their employment search.

First, identify all your potential business networking contacts. Successful job seekers can network with anyone regarding employment, so the first step is to just make a list of everyone you know. Include family, friends, co-workers, former employers, former classmates, religious contacts, recruiters, career counselors, neighbors, your mailman – the list goes on. At this point, don’t waste time trying to predict if they will actually be able to help you or not, just write down everyone you can think of.

Next, start talking to the people from your business networking contact list. This is where most job seekers get stuck. Many don’t know how to talk to their contacts about employment without sounding needy or demanding. Begin by explaining your current employment situation and that you would like to make a change. Explain what you would like to do, and then ask them if they have any career advice or ideas of who you might be able to talk to for help. Don’t just ask them to help you find a job or if they know anyone who can; at this point all you want is information, not jobs. If they have ideas or know of any openings, they will offer them, but don’t pester them or beg for help if they don’t offer anything. Thank them for their time and be sure to leave them with a copy of your current resume.

Business networking takes patience and perseverance: successful job seekers demonstrate both when looking for employment.

Once you have started talking to your business networking contacts, the next step is to follow-up; successful job seekers follow-up on every single employment lead. Keep track of all the people you talk to about your career search including when you spoke, the things you talked about, and a follow-up items. If someone provided you with any useful information or new contacts, remember to send them a thank you note. Keep in contact with everyone by emailing or calling about once a month. If you talk to someone several times and they don’t seem like they are interested in helping you, simply remove them from your list. You want to focus on your helpful contact, while removing any dead ends. When you do find a job, be sure to update everyone in your network with your new situation and your new resume.

Lastly, always work to increase your business networking group by talking to other job seekers and colleagues alike. Follow-up on all new employment and contact leads, adding them to your existing network as you go. Attend career fairs, conferences, and social occasions with the goal of increasing your network. Maintain your current network by sharing your experience, information, and helpful contacts with others; networking is a two-way street so you should always be ready to help others achieve their goals, not just your own.

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