Who do you know?

Mar 9, 2010 by

Like it or not, networking is one of the most effective ways of finding new employment.

How do you feel about networking? Loath the thought of it? Foresee getting dressed up for uncomfortable evenings sipping complementary wine and swopping business cards with people you’ll never speak to again? If so, read on…

There are lots of ways to network. Not all of them are obvious - but many of them are easier than attending formal / organized networking events.

Ever sat down and thought about who you know – and who they might know?

It’s a small world. Six Degrees of Seperation (also referred to as the “Human Web”) refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.

Chances are that you are more closely connected than you think to all kinds of people who can help you: business owners and senior decision-makers in all kinds of industry sectors and job functions who can offer you employment – or know somebody else who can. You just don’t know who those people are yet.

How do you uncover these hidden connections more often?

Sit down and think about everybody you have crossed paths with in your professional, family and social lives. How much do you know about each of those people?

I attend a martial arts class several times a week. Between 40-50 members attend on different days and hail from many different backgrounds, among them: the MD of an executive recruitment company, an ex Head of Brand at Rolls Royce, a former biologist at Boots Plc, several IT consultants, a professional photographer, artist, engineer, roofer, building contractor, osteopath and other health professionals. Most are business owners or senior decision-makers who control who to hire or fire.

Surprisingly, only two or three people in the entire group know the name, profession and background of every single member. I am one of them. Other members, some of whom have attended for over twenty years, do not know more than ten or so people well enough to give that information. On the flip side, they all know who I am and what I do.

It’s not that I am nosey or have a particular agenda. I just like talking to people and have a genuine interest in people.  That interaction has led me to acquire a lot of information about the people around me – including job opportunities.

Engage with people

Are you a member of a social group? Do you make an effort to welcome new members and talk to everyone, not just the same few people week in, week out? Do you discuss aspects of their lives outside the context in which you meet them? Do they know what you do?

If the answer is no, aim to become a more active member of your particular social group. Make an effort to talk to people, or help organize group activities and events. If you don’t belong to a social group outside of work, think about joining one engaged in something that is of interest to you.

How does this find me a job?

Clubs and social groups are full of potential employers. One employer said he would interview everyone over a pint if he could. Employers hire people they like.  You will gain a massive advantage if you become known to a potential employer through a social activity of common interest to you both.

And don’t forget: somebody unable to help you find work may well know somebody else who can.

A little bit of boldness will bring surprising results

You need to be brave: some people are afraid to ask about job opportunities or an introduction a third party. You will never know unless you ask though. A third party is likely to give you more time and attention if you have been introduced to them via a common friend or acquaintance.

I’ve said before that people who found work without a CV or formal interview aren’t just lucky. In most cases they have found work by asking around and making the most of all their contacts.

One of our clients received this advice during an outplacement session. He sat and thought hard about who he knew and remembered a previous work contact. That contact had moved on, her whereabouts unknown, but our client did know where her husband had worked several years previously. Luck found him still working there and our client managed to re-establish contact. As it happened, this contact had progressed to a senior management position within a company and introduced our client to a third contact who ended up employing him.

Who do you know?

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