Create your own professional networking system that is appropriately prioritized, is efficient to manage and delivers results.
Creating a structured plan and process is vital to any successful venture, including managing your job search networking campaign. It is critical that you clearly identify your network contacts, develop a personalized networking plan, and build an administrative process to manage it all.
Before starting to create a two-tiered networking system, remember the most important concept underlying the networking process: Ask your network contacts for their help, not for a job. People are delighted to help, but few will have jobs to offer you.
These are the hottest prospects and people you know best—current and past colleagues and managers, vendors, consultants, and recruiters with whom you have an established relationship.
Process: Your initial contact will likely be via email—a quick note announcing you’re in the job market and would appreciate advice, assistance, recommendations, or referrals.
Follow-up one: At the end of each conversation, tell your contacts you’d like to email them your resume to have on file. Immediately forward your resume with a brief, friendly cover letter, thanking them for any help they can offer and mentioning the positions and industries in which you are interested.
Follow-up two: If you have not heard back from contacts within three weeks, call and inquire if they’ve reviewed your resume and if they have any recommendations.
These are people you know casually. This list will largely fall into the same categories as the tier-one contacts, but you do not know these individuals as well.
Process: Your initial contact will most likely be 50% by phone and 50% by email, depending on how comfortable you are in these relationships and how easy it is to connect with each individual. Whenever possible, it’s best if the initial contact is a phone call, allowing you to establish a more personal relationship. However, if that’s not possible, email is fine. Your conversation will be more formal than with your tier-one contacts, but your objective is the same—to quickly communicate that you’re in the job market and would appreciate their help.
Follow-up one: If you’ve called a contact, follow up immediately by sending a resume. If you’ve emailed a contact, include your resume. Also forward a cover letter including the positions and industries in which you are interested and several of your most notable achievements.
Follow-up two: If you have not heard back from contacts within three weeks, call or email them and inquire if they’ve reviewed your resume and if they have any recommendations.
Managing the process
Once you’ve developed your list of contacts and determined how to connect with each individual, set up a network management system to track all your calls, contacts, and follow-up commitments.
Be forewarned: No matter how sharp your memory, if you do not keep track of your networking campaign, you will get lost in the process, forget important commitments, and potentially lose great opportunities.
Create a new contact in your phone for each introduction, noting how the contact was made, what information you provided, any follow-up commitments you’ve scheduled and the person’s complete contact information. All their information will be at your fingertips when they contact you, and you won’t be tongue tied trying to remember who they are or when you contacted them.
Make yourself available
In order to get the word out about you and your job search, you need to do a lot of reaching out—and that takes time. But there’s another way to network that involves getting people to come to you. Need some help getting started? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume and cover letter—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. It’s a quick and easy way to make yourself visible to companies hiring, as well as expand your networking circle.