Because unemployment can be traumatic, depressing and isolating, networking with others can offer much-needed social interactions, support and encouragement. Most of us, however, are hesitant to assertively network due to not wanting to appear pushy or annoying.
The reality is, effective networking is not about using other people, but rather about building and nurturing productive relationships that, if built and nurtured well, can help all parties involved.
Here are some facts to consider as you network with others:
* It typically feels good to help others.
* Most people will gladly help if asked and if they know how.
* Most of us know more people than we think we do.
* People like to give advice and to be recognized for their accomplishments and expertise.
* Most everyone, especially in today's world, has been unemployed at some time in their career and will be willing to help someone who is currently unemployed.
* Most importantly, no one can give you needed information unless they know what information you need.
This last fact is critically important to understand as it firmly places the burden on you to effectively and efficiently communicate what information you need as you engage in networking activities.
Some tips on communicating with others as you network include:
* Do not ask if they know of any job openings; most do not, and the conversation will typically end right there.
* Make sure you know what you need. For example, you may need to talk with someone in the field you are interested in, or you may need connections that will lead to specific targeted employers.
* Communicate your needs as clearly and as succinctly as you can.
* Be prepared to share a summary of your skills and experience, as well as your networking goals. This could involve finding connections to your targeted companies, what makes a good contact for you, etc.
* Always ask what you can do to help the person you are communicating with. Always.
As for not asking for knowledge of job openings, as seemingly intuitive as it is to ask that question, doing so quickly narrows the conversation. It is unlikely the person you are communicating with will know your specific skills and interests, let alone have knowledge of specific job openings that would match your skills and interests. It is far better to ask about people they know who may work in your field or may work for one of your targeted employers. This greatly expands your network.
Very few can go through unemployment without feeling isolated and depressed. The key is to ensure you don't let those feelings emotionally consume you and stop you from moving forward. These networking activities not only will get you heading in the right direction but also can provide much-needed social interactions that can be both healthy and motivating.
One of my favorite statements on networking is, "Put your shoulder to that thin gray line between very assertive and obnoxiously aggressive and push, but don't ever, ever cross the line."
There is no question that sometimes networking can feel like you are "using" people. It is normal to feel like you are imposing on others or appearing aggressive, but remember that it typically does feel good to help others and that most everyone has been unemployed at some time in their career. They will probably be willing to help you, if asked. Then you can hopefully overcome those negative feelings and move forward with confidence. In return, always be willing to help others along the way.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.