You can hardly say job search without ‘networking’ popping up.

Why? Studies show consistent networkers are more successful in business and in life. Yet many of us fear it or misunderstand the process. These are human connections. You are helping each other to grow and move forward.
Tip 1. Learn how to network
Think about what you need to learn from your networking efforts. You’ll need focus and goals to guide your networking to achieve success.  Here is a ‘cheat sheet’ of categories to start – build your own list from it:

  • Reconnecting – with people you value but have not connected with lately
  • Professional groups’ meetings – such as: national/local groups in your chosen field, chambers of commerce, job clubs, veteran or alumni groups.
  • Individual meetings – specific people in your field and outside it
  • Developmental events – seminars, conferences, courses in your field
  • Online options for meeting people in your field – LinkedIn, MeetUp, etc.

Look at what you have done in the past to connect with other people. What has been most effective? Less so? What else do you need to do?

Transitioning military? Yes, you do have civilian contacts already! Think: people you know from your civilian days, friends who left the service before you, people you have met in community/church/kids’ events. Start by reaching out to the people you know, then build!
Tip 2. Define your goals
Don’t just go to events or have coffee with friends and call it networking. Define what you need, what you offer, and what you will do in fairly specific terms first. Consider:

  • What do you want to learn from each contact? What will you share?
  • What help do you want – such as: company info, references, referrals, resume review, compensation info?
  • Who do you know you might introduce to the person?
  • Who will you ask for introductions and to which target employers or other resources?


Tip 3. Make it Easy

Never go to an event without a plan. It could be to meet specific people or to learn something specific by talking with others there. You’ll also need a basic elevator speech which you can tailor to the person and event.

Attending a Job Fair? Remember to talk with others there about the market, specific companies which interest you, and other things you want to know. Make new connections and follow up.

Have a goal when you meet with an individual or small group too. What do you want out of the meeting? What are you offering in return?

Keep going! Networking builds on itself.
Remember networking is connecting with other people and helping them out. You need to find ways to maintain your network consistently over time. Pick a process, make a plan and execute it for your job search or career development success.

Originally published on blog.