By Charlotte Weeks
It’s become common knowledge that networking is how the majority of people find jobs. Statistically, this applies to executives even more than those at other levels. When associations are sourcing for the ideal person to lead their organization, they are more likely to turn to their existing networks first. Since getting hired as a result of networking can take time, it doesn’t always make it the most appealing option for busy executives and aspiring executives.
While not a quick method, there are ways that you can increase the effectiveness of your networking and shorten your job search at the same time. The key is to spend your time connecting with people in your industry instead of casting a wider net. Of course, you can let friends and family know you’re looking, as people often find opportunities in unexpected ways. However, your dedicated “networking time” – connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at in-person events – will be better used if you’re focused on what you want.
For example, let’s say you are looking for a job leading an environmental association. You’ll have better luck if once a month you attend a function attended by environmental leaders, rather than going to a “general” event once a week! Optimize these gatherings even more by determining who you need to come into contact with. Identify associations that interest you, along with names (if possible) of board members, hiring managers, and human resources employees. Then, when someone asks how they can help you, you’ll be prepared to ask for introductions!
Meeting new people is only half the battle–maintaining your network is just as important. Continue building relationships with existing contacts. Schedule regular lunches, coffees, or even brief telephone conversations to stay connected. For people outside of your geographic area (and even those within it!), keep in touch through social media, and always be a “giver.” This means letting your network know of leads or contacts they may be interested in, sending articles that may appeal to them, or just calling to see what you can do to help.
Building a strong network takes time, but it’s also an investment – your relationships can lead to opportunities at all stages of your career! Whether you’re actively looking for work, choosing new board members, or sourcing for employees, you’ll have a pool of contacts that you can tap into on short notice.