How many people do you know? 200? 400? 600? More? Let’s say you know at least 200. If they each know at least 200, that’s 200 x 200 = 40 000 people you can get in touch with directly or through a contact. These people will have a lot of information and advice available to you to help in your job search, and in particular to help you to access the ‘invisible’ job market.
When looking for a job, spend the majority of your time using this network of contacts. Start off by making a list of people you know, from friends, family, ex colleagues and current colleagues to people you know through hobbies. Prioritise who you feel best able to approach first.
Think about what you would like to get from each meeting. Draw up a list of points appropriate to discuss with that person. Short of asking for a job there is a variety of things about which you can seek advice and opinions.
• suggestions about career choices;
• information about changes in organisations, people, services or products, not yet publicly known;
• developments in the industry; which organisations are growing, what are the issues they face;
• comment and critique about your CV and/or presentation, but only if they are knowledgeable about your particular field;
• referral to other people or sources of information.
Try to find somewhere neutral and without distractions. The emphasis of the meeting needs to be business rather than social. Aim for about twenty minutes, since this usually fits reasonably into most people’s diaries with some room to spare.
Finally, one of the most important reasons to network is that it’s much more energising and motivating and less lonely than trawling through websites – enjoy it!