following is an an excerpt from
Outwitting the Job Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great
Published by The Lyons Press;
May 2004; $13.95US/$19.95CAN;
Copyright © 2004 Chandra Prasad
Network Your Way Into a Job
by Chandra Prasad
It's hard to underestimate the importance of networking in the job-hunting
process. For every person who finds a position through Monster or Hotjobs, at
least ten more find theirs through people they know. Why? Because the majority
of job opportunities are never formally advertised -- making networking the only
way to "be in the know."
Despite its tremendous importance, networking can be intimidating. The very
word can stir up disquieting images of executives exchanging top-secret
information in the confines of a boardroom or of unemployed professionals
desperately calling complete strangers for help. But if the stereotypes of
networking are dismal, the reality is much rosier—and simpler. Below are some
painless ways to help you capitalize on your own professional network.
It sounds simple, but remembering someone's name can make an indelibly
positive impression on that person. Remembering someone's name is actually to
pay him a compliment, for it means that you have committed her to memory. On the
other hand, not remembering a person's name or mispronouncing it is akin to a
subtle insult. Everyone has been in this situation. You meet someone, introduce
yourself, and five minutes later, you hear, "What was your name again?" The very
question can make you feel small and forgettable. On the other hand, hearing
your name in conversation --"Can you tell me more about your business plan,
Jessie?" or "Ming, I really enjoyed that speech you gave" -- may lift your
spirits. In networking, a special and concerted effort to remember names is
important, for it sets you apart as a considerate and personable contact.
Pass Out Your Business Card
It's not always convenient or wise to pass out your résumé at every
networking function you attend. An easier way to make sure that people remember
you is to keep a stack of business cards in your pocket or purse. When you meet
a person who might become a professional contact, don't hesitate to dole out
your card. Obviously, if you're between jobs or just out of school, you may not
have an appropriate card or any card at all. In this case, consider investing in
cards that list only your name, contact information, professional title, and/or
area of expertise. Many printing companies -- including chain stores like
Kinko's -- can turn around a simple, professional-looking, and inexpensive card
in a matter of days.
Call or Email Your Contacts Regularly
This is especially important during periods when their guidance or support is
not necessary. If you contact a person only during times of need, she may feel
put upon or even used. Conversely, regular communication, in good times and bad,
can only bolster the foundation of a relationship. A former vice president of a
major health insurance company says that he appreciated when people he'd helped
over the years "called me to let me know how they were doing." He goes on to say
that he "would not be inclined to help someone more than once if they didn't
express their appreciation the first time."
Ask Your Contacts for Contacts
In networking, speaking with people is a little like rooting for truffles.
You may have to dig around a bit before you find a nugget that is valuable.
Often times you will network with someone who knows little about your
profession. Yet he may know another person who might be of greater assistance.
For this reason, you should never hesitate to ask your contacts the fateful
question: "Do you know anyone who works in my industry?"
If the answer is "yes," why not pursue the lead? Ask where that person works
and what her position is. Ask if that person would be amenable to speaking with
you about job opportunities. Ask if you can have that person's phone number or
e-mail address, and if you can say that you were referred. Listen carefully to
the information that is given to you and jot down the important parts,
especially names and contact information. And don't wait too long to follow up!
This article has been excerpted from Outwitting the Job
Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great Position, Lyons
Copyright © 2004 Chandra Prasad
For more information, please visit
Chandra Prasad has written on career issues in The
Wall Street Journal's Career Journal, IMDiversitycom, and JobCircle.com,
among others. She has been quoted as a workplace expert by Black Entertainment
Television, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Complete Idiot's
Guide to Finding Your Dream Job Online. She is the former Editor-at-Large of
Vault, an online careers site that has been called "the best place on the Web to
prepare for a job search" by Fortune Magazine.