“The way of the world is meeting people through other people.”
~ Robert Kerrigan
One of the most difficult challenges for job seekers is the idea of networking: personally meeting people who can help you with your job search. You may not have ever had to network or work hard at finding employment. You may have had to do exactly that, and cringe at the thought of a repeat. Whatever your situation, networking will be crucial to your job search success. While current statistics vary slightly, most experts agree that between 70% and 80% of jobs are found through networking.
It can be helpful to approach networking from the concept of a visual target consisting of your circles of influence. Your hot circle is the bull’s-eye in the center; your warm and cold circles are the outer circles.
The hot circle contains people you speak to and interact with on a regular basis. This group consists of your family, close friends, neighbors, people you volunteer with or share hobbies with, fellow high school or college alums and other people you feel comfortable dealing with in person. These are people with whom you should have no trouble “networking”.
As you move outward and away from the people you regularly interact with, you move toward and into a larger circle. Here you find people you may have worked with at one time, acquaintances, and friends of friends. You may not be completely at ease speaking to these people one-on-one, but at least you’ve seen them around. You can comfortably approach many of the people in your warm circle. A casual introduction from a friend or a phone call from a mutual friend to let them know who you are will make it easer. This circle of influence is unquestionably larger than your hot circle, and it is one you will need to access in your job search.
Your cold circle is the largest circle accessible for your job search. In a nutshell, it’s all the people you do not know personally. These are often people you have heard of or admire, but would never consider speaking to because you think they would not have time for you; or you simply feel intimidated. Your cold circle can include anyone from an elected official to the president of a corporation you are interested in working for.
Where Do I Begin? Your Hot Circle!
Hot Circle True Story: My client had started networking in his hot circle. He was to have an informational networking meeting with a “friend of a friend” who cancelled at the last minute. The reason? Her top creative designer had just quit and needed to be replaced. Guess what my client’s profession was? Bingo! He was hired!
At the start of your job search, you must make a point to speak in person with everyone in your hot circle. Stay in close contact with these people as you continue in your search. In doing so, your network will expand! Don’t be embarrassed about asking people for help. It is important to remember that as a general rule, people WANT to help others in any way they can. People in your Hot Circle may not have a job for you, but there are many other ways your reaching out to them can yield results! Here are some tips for starting to network with your hot circle:
- Tell them what type of work you are looking for.
- Send a quick email out to the people you know in this circle””those you feel “close” to.
- sk who they might know who could be of help to you in your search.
- Ask that they introduce you to their friends””their hot circle of influence.
- Talk to them when you feel low and need support.
- Ask for their feedback on your resumes, cover letters, online profiles (LinkedIn etc.) or other job search tools you have created.
- If someone has a possible lead for you, contact them on the phone or meet in person to discuss it.
- Don’t forget to send a thank-you note or gift (i.e., golf balls for a golfer, treat to lunch etc.) if someone in your hot circle gets you a meeting or interview!
Challenge: Sit down with pen and paper or at your computer screen. Make a list of 50-100 people who could fit into your hot circle. You will be surprised how quickly that list grows! In Part 2, we’ll explore how to stretch from your hot circle into your warm circle. Happy Networking!