Posted by Brian McCullough
The above title came to mind this weekend when I was talking to a friend who was looking for a new job.
I gave him the advice that we career pros are always repeating: The quickest way to find a new job is through networking.
His response was instructive:
“If I knew someone who would hire me,” he said, “I wouldn’t be looking for a job, would I?”
There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about what “networking” in the job search sense actually means. Sure, a lot of it is who you know. Your friends can open doors for you. But I would venture that a large part of it is who you don’t know… but could reach out to if you just play your cards right.
So, a simple analogy is to compare job search networking to dating.
If you’ve just suffered a breakup, the easiest path to a new relationship is to hook up with some other friend. If you’ve got someone who’s been sitting on a back burner waiting for you to get single, then your search for a new relationship is over.
But it doesn’t work that way. When you’re newly single, you’ve got to “get yourself out there” as people always say. Go to bars. Go out with friends. Meet some of their friends. Have them hook you up with people they know, but you don’t know… yet.
Everyone understands that that is part of dating.
The same thing goes for job search networking. Sure, if you have a friend that can hire you, or get you an introduction, then yeah, your job search is over. That’s the easiest and simplest form of networking.
But the larger part is the getting yourself out there part. Meeting people you don’t know. Having friends make introductions to some of their connections that you’ve never met before.
It’s just like dating. Maybe you have to doing things you hadn’t done… getting active in clubs or the community… or via volunteering. That sort of thing. True job search networking is about getting you and your job search out there to as many new people as possible.
The six degrees of separation concept has become such a hoary cliché of late, but it’s still true. Chances are very good that a friend of a friend of a friend can help you get a job at your dream company. But it’s up to you to explore that chain of connections.
Your existing pool of friends and colleagues can help start you down the path, but in the end, the biggest part of “networking” in the job search sense is meeting new people and approaching people you don’t know… yet.