Monday, February 13, 2006

Jobs and Networking

What is the role of networking in finding a job? It is the single most effective way to find a new job. People hire people they know. Or people who are known to them. The Internet provides tens of thousands of jobs and resumes, with no guarantee of quality or accuracy. However, your friend Steve has always been a good judge of character, and when he tells you that Joe is looking for a job and would be a good fit, you are inclined to believe him.

I found my first professional technical job by a reference of a friend. He put in a good word for me, and combined with the technical skills and my ability to learn, I got the position. Of the five companies I have worked for since, only one job came from a “want ad”. I parleyed relationships at my first job into my second and third. My fourth job led me to where I am now. At Sprint, I have used personal relationships to move into three different business areas.

Would I be able to do this without having the skills? No. Skills, aptitude and attitude are critical. But getting noticed is often the key. Having a personal relationship – through reputation, friendship or second hand knowledge – is key to getting noticed. How do you become a successful career networker? Simple. Be good to people. Help them out. Solve their problems, build a reputation as someone who will get the job done, without complaint. Make their lives easier. And remember who they are – talk to people, ask about them, remember details about them. No one is too far above or too far below you station to offer help to them. One fine example – a new hire at my third company ended up becoming a manager at my current place of employment. Five years later, he still remembers me and has a good opinion of me. If he were in a position to offer a reference or a job, I am confident he would.

Simply put, “be excellent to each other”. It pays off in the long run.
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