I know that when I first started talking about networking, I had a different idea on what it was than I do today. As with most learning, we begin at a certain spot with our knowledge, and hopefully our knowledge level grows from where we started. That is the true nature of learning, isn’t it?
In the early stages of my learning, Networking meant to make a list of all the people I know and contact them to let them know I am doing a job search and to give them an idea of what my skills are, perhaps by sharing my resume. I did learn early on to never ask for a job opportunity. The people you are networking with generally are not the people who do the hiring.
What you want to do is have a conversation with many people and express your need to grow in your profession. “I am looking for a ______ position involving _________, __________, and _______________ for an organization focused on ___________.” To fill in those blanks you need to have been doing some research on what your strengths are and what kind of work you want to be doing.
“Networking is a research project because 75% of jobs are never posted. You learn about these jobs that are never posted by talking to a wide variety of people. Networking is finding people who are willing to help you find people who are able to help you. Networking is advice, guidance and feedback from people who live in the world that you want to live in next.”
Another thing I learned is that we never really stop networking when we are working. We prove ourselves and our capabilities every day that we perform our job duties to the best of our ability. Co-workers and supervisors see what we do and how we do it on the job. They get a feel for how effective we are or can be. When we are working on a project our listening and communication skills become evident. Others can vouch for the fact that we are effective on the job. Do we communicate in a positive and effective manner? Do we respect others’ and others’ opinions on the job? Do we offer to help with this or that project? Are we a team player?
Reading the article at the link below will help you grasp what I am saying in this post.
Source: The Human Search Engine, by Chris Czarnik and Christopher Jossart