Networking is an essential tool that you must work on right from the first thought you have on re-entering the job market. Remember that networking is all about building good relationships and gaining more knowledge of a person or a topic of interest (for example getting to know more about the organization where your networking contact works, or the work culture of the company), it is not contacting someone for getting that job. When you approach a person with the right mindset, the response and knowledge transfer will be much more effective than when linking your networking activities to pass on your resume or indirectly apply for an open position.
Some tips on effective networking:
- Let your friends / family / ex-coworkers know that you are active in job search.
- Join online social networking groups as LinkedIn and Ryze.
- Participate in job search and advice forums and other online networking discussion boards for working women or those searching for jobs.
- Join a local women’s association or groups which organize social networking events for women job seekers.
- Whether at a pool, gym or a party, they are all times for networking – but don’t overdo it! If networking is always on your mind you could be jeopardizing your friendships.
- Take initiative to introduce yourself to people you don’t know in a party or a social meeting.
- Keep an open mind to recommendations from friends or acquaintances.
- While networking, show a cheerful and positive outlook; never undermine yourself.
- Ask open-ended questions, such as, “Could you please send me the contacts of those you know in the field that I am currently searching for jobs? Here is my email address.”
- Get yourself some “business cards” that state your name, address, email and contact number, along with a brief description of your skills
- Follow-up on your resources with a polite phone call or an email; often it is the follow-up emails that get your resource in action – whether it is forwarding your resume to their HR department or sending it out to their friends in a similar industry.
- Don’t forget to thank even those who were not of help at the moment; it is an essential networking etiquette.