One of the multiple benefits of leveraging on your personal or professional network as part of your job search efforts is that some of your network contacts may be somehow related to the industry or company of interest and can provide you with useful information and referrals.
However, there are times that some contacts, especially those who you do not have a close relationship with, that may be somehow reluctant to share their network information to you.
To better manage your resources, particularly when it comes to networking as part of job search efforts, here are some useful tips for you.
- Nurture and add value to your network.
The renowned author and businessman Harvey McKay always says, “Dig your well before you are thirsty”. Don’t make the mistake to wait until you are looking for a job to grow and nurture your network. As we never know when we might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network, even if you think you may not need it today.
Don’t just contact those who can help when you have just been laid-off from your job or decide you want to look for a new position. Keep in touch with your network on a regular basis – even if it’s just a brief email to say hello and to ask how they are doing or look for how you can help your contacts. People are more willing to help when they know who you are.
- Consider your approach
Since you may have different levels of relationship with the contacts in your network, it is recommended that you adjust your approach accordingly. For some of your not-so-close contacts, it may be inappropriate to just give them a call out of nowhere to ask for referrals. In those cases, consider sending them an email or note, or ask them for time to coffee or lunch to reconnect and ask them for advice would be a better approach.
- Listen for what they has to say
Even if the person does not know much about the field or company of interest, they might provide you with valuable advice. Don’t make the mistake of not being attentive to your contact’s advice as they might be giving you gems of information that may be valuable as you go along with your search.
- Ask your contact for at least two referrals.
Once you listen to the information or advice you are being provided, ask for at least two referrals in your field of interest.
If, for some reason, your acquaintance wasn’t able to refer you to at least one of their network contacts, politely ask them why. Be attentive to their answers as that may include suggestions, indirect comments or even feedback about your work or about an area of you that may need some improvement. Is that is the case, be thankful for the feedback as it may be key for better positioning in your career advancement strategy.
And, of course, there are also times when some of your contacts can’t provide you referrals because they just don’t know anybody in your field or employer of interest. In such a case, ask them to keep their “radar on” for potential opportunities that you might be interested in.
- Just ask for two referrals.
So you may ask, why two referrals? Two referrals are enough from each of your contact. The reason behind the number is for you to have more than one option in case the first one didn’t result as planned. On the other hand, asking your contacts for more than two referrals could be improper as it can take additional time and effort from your network contact. So, don’t ask for more than 2 referrals and if they volunteer more than two, the better.
- Contact referrals as soon as possible.
Once you are provided with referrals, don’t hesitate to followup upon the information given. There are times when your contact may call the person to introduce you and to let them know that you will be contacting them. Being that so, you don’t want to delay on taking action.
Also it can happen the other way around where you speak with the referral and the person contact your network acquaintance to verify your information and to get some feedback. So it is beneficial for you that these conversations happen sooner than later so your network friend has the conversation with still fresh in his mind.