The holiday season is ideal for re-connecting, making new contacts and strengthening relationships. Networking is the best job search method and generates over 80% of new hires. Constantly nurturing existing relationships and strategically developing new contacts puts you on the inside track to plum job leads whether you are an active candidate or just want to keep up with the market. All jobs are temporary. Your network is lifetime career insurance. Contacts provide referrals, recommendations and invitations. The “right contacts” are relationships with hiring decision makers and good connectors. In just 12 days, start building your career nest egg.
On the first day… Define your networking strategy
Focus on individuals and activities directly related to your personal and professional goals. Compile list of existing contacts and research targeted new ones among friends of friends, industry consultants, thought leaders, authors, and event speakers.
On the second day… Organize contacts into action groups
Set up one-on-one, in-person meetings or telephone visits; send individual email or handwritten notes or invitations to an event; share a link or article, or connect two Linked In contacts online.
On the third day… Choose and prioritize in-person and virtual
communities. Identify a few groups or organizations specific to your industry, specialty, or new field you want to enter, and join their LinkedIn groups. Keep up the momentum by scheduling virtual networking time into your daily calendar to participate in discussions.
On the fourth day… Create a networking card
On the front, display your name, email address, and preferred phone number under a descriptive, memorable headline. On the back, list your bulleted core competencies. For email, add a signature block including your name, headline, and contact details.
On the fifth day… Connect with contacts now
Send holiday cards, gifts, and emails. Make phone calls. Attend/schedule a live event. Pull out your planner and pencil in more time to network purposefully each day. Use that allotment to email a few names from your list, have a phone visit, post a comment to an online discussion, or attend a local chapter meeting. Repeat daily.
On the sixth day… Launch your (new) network purposefully
If you are in transition or planning a career move, first define your requirements (geography, responsibilities, corporate culture, company size, etc.). Then, gather the prospective employers which match your criteria and research them, remembering to identify the appropriate hiring manager. Brainstorm a list of people in your network who might be able to connect you to those individuals, or how you can introduce yourself.
On the seventh day… Conduct due diligence
Find individuals with inside knowledge of target companies, including current and former employees and consultants. Read print and online publications, visit professional association websites, and check conference presenters. Refine your value proposition for employers based on their needs, and rework your “story” for how you will add to profits, reduce costs or improve process.
On the eighth day… Initiate inside contacts at each target company
You should already be members of the same organizations and groups. Now, you must stay on the radar by suggesting solutions, ideas, and volunteer your services. Participate in discussions, but not begin conversations asking about openings. If you’re successfully staying connected, you should hear of potential opportunities before public announcements, and be the preferred candidate (when you identify a need) before a new position is official.
On the ninth day...Maximize social networking to increase quality contacts
Social networks provide enormous opportunity to connect with insiders identified from their profile content. Search LinkedIn to find contacts and send a compelling introduction explaining how they will benefit from meeting you—or ask for their recommendations for new trends, ideas, or people to know. You can also ask a mutual contact to facilitate an introduction, or just join the same group as your target contact and get on their radar.
On the tenth day… Spot trends and increase your knowledge online
It’s time to go beyond Linked In. Visit corporate websites, LI profiles and Facebook fan pages, and search online (ZoomInfo, Slideshare, Google profiles, Spoke, etc.) to find individuals and corporate accounts to follow on Twitter. Identify a handful of bloggers you admire, and regularly read and comment; the authors may reply and start a private conversation. Or, start your own community by publishing your own blog and reply promptly to comments and questions, with a goal to move conversations offline and deepen relationships.
On the eleventh day… Increase your visibility
Now that you are getting the hang of how to network purposefully, amplify your LinkedIn profile. Upload presentations, articles, and favorite links, and be sure to include lots of keywords. To further increase your digital footprint, keep updated on your Twitter stream and keep track of your favorite blogs and websites (via RSS) so that you can write timely comments and questions. These activities all add to your credibility online and make you more searchable.
On the twelfth day… Maintain social networking accounts and credibility
Be consistent across all of your networking platforms. While staying in touch and keeping your activities current is time-consuming, networking from scratch every time you need a position requires much more time and effort--and is far less effective. Solid relationships are the key to sourcing new challenges in the unadvertised or hidden job market, so keep them up—and don’t wait until you’re job searching to maintain a running “resume” of your accomplishments online. Just as it’s easier to maintain a relationship than to forge a new one, it’s also much simpler to point to a continuous record of your thinking and values than constantly introduce them.
NOTE: Every day above may require more than 24 hours! Each is a major milestone towards establishing a network of enduring value.
Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally recognized executive talent agent and job search expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, customized senior level executive campaigns that provide lifetime career insurance.. Her gift for Networking Purposefully™ -- executed with high energy and savvy panache – banishes employment roadblocks, expands inside connections and leverages virtual relationships to accelerate targeted leads within the hidden job market. Learn more about her groundbreaking techniques that eliminate gatekeepers and put you back in control. Contact Debra now to expedite your professional ascent and Like JobWhiz on Facebook.
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