Powerful network? As an executive resume writer when I work with job seekers, we often discuss their networks. Some people confidently reply “I know many people who can help me.” Others reply, “What network?” There is much confusion about networks and where to find them.
One of my favorite books about networking is by Harvey MacKay, “Dig your well before you are thirsty.” The principle is this: you want to know that you have people in your corner who will come to bat for you when you need them.
If you wait to build your powerful network when you need it, you may struggle to find someone who can help you. The other principle I learned from Mr. MacKay is that networks go both ways. You can’t be a taker for your whole life. You need to be a giver too.
How do I build a powerful network?
Let’s start with the basics.
- Your contact database. No matter what system you use, you need to track your contacts. Many people don’t understand that there is a part of every email program that you need to complete. Your Contacts!
- Tools for organizing your contacts
- Google Contacts — with the ease of syncing your devices using Google, you can keep your contacts up-to-date on your phone, laptop, and tablet with a single entry.
- Outlook Contacts — Same principle. I think Outlook now syncs better with most devices.
- JibberJobber — Jason Alba took his own job search experience as a job seeker and created a system that organized his contacts. When Jason launched JibberJobber, he marketed it as a tool for job seekers first because he knew first hand the struggle of tracking a network.
- Tools for organizing your contacts
- LinkedIn. After you built your database in your contact system, you can use it to find more people to add to LinkedIn. While you can upload your address book, select people you want in your powerful network and strategically invite your contacts with a personalized invite. Resist the urge to try to find a massive batch of connections by sending an invite to everyone in your network.
- Church Directory. If you are active in your church, you may know some people by first name only or maybe you haven’t exchanged names but you talk with them during the fellowship time every Sunday. The church directory will help you equate the person with their real name and give you contact information too.
- Your Business Card Collection. Perhaps your business cards are organized in a Rolodex or you have a pile of cards somewhere in your office. Gather them together and put them into your Contact database.
- Organizational Lists. Much like the church directory, your organizational membership lists from Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimists and other groups can give you contact information to expand your network. Don’t forget alumni information from your high school or college as well as Chamber of Commerce member lists.
What do you do with all this Contact information?
When you update your contact information, you can use JibberJobber or another customer relationship manager to find connections with the jobs you are targeting. You can research who knows whom through LinkedIn and add notes to your contact information.
Building your powerful network is essential to job search
No job is forever anymore, this is a healthy practice going forward.
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