Monday, March 5, 2012

Networking, 21st-Century Style

This is a guest post by Heather Taylor. This freelance writer, consultant and radio producer has served as a job coach in the AARP Foundation WorkSearch Program since January 2011, helping adults 50+ who are unemployed to find satisfying work.

Networking is frequently cited by career and job coaches and in job search books. And the reason is pretty clear: networking works. Why? Since most job openings aren’t advertised, already having contacts in your particular field can give you an advantage over other job seekers.

“By effectively building a network of colleagues, business associates and more,” says Inc. magazine contributor Lou Dubois in How to Network Effectively“you are ensuring that whenever you need a new client, a new job, or to develop your skills further, you can call upon your network to help you.”

Sounds simple, right? Make contacts and develop a network that you interact with regularly, not just when you’re looking for a job. So if networking can yield such good results, why do so many job seekers put networking in the same category as having a root canal or public speaking?

Job seekers I spoke with said that networking was one of the most challenging parts of the job search process. They found it harder than writing or revising a resume, preparing for interviews or researching companies.

So what is it about networking that bothers even the most committed job seeker?  
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of the professional networking site LinkedIn, and entrepreneur and author Ben Casnocha, offer some insight to this question in their new book, The Start-Up of You:  Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself and Transform Your Future
Many people are turned off by the topic of networking. They think it feels slimy, inauthentic. Picture the consummate networker: the high-energy fast talker who collects as many business cards as he can, attends networking mixers in the evenings… [These networkers] pursue relationships thinking only about what other people can do for them. And they’ll only network with people when they need something, like a job or new clients.

More advice and the complete AARP article

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