While I have always been a strong advocate of the value of networking in a job search, I’ve come to realize from watching students and alumni that many are not gaining the full value of networking because they lack a strategic focus. In a job search, it is critical to maximize your opportunities for success and without strategic focus you are less likely to accomplish you goals.
- Define a target list – Do you research about companies and industries that interest you and that hire people with the skills you have to offer. Don’t overlook small and mid-sized companies. Build a list of 30 – 40 companies which meet your criteria.
- Identify contacts – For the companies on your list, research to identify contacts. Use LinkedIn, your alumni database, former colleagues, friends and family, etc. to identify contacts working in the companies on your target list. Capture all contacts you find in your target companies but highlight the ones in the functional area you are most interested in.
- Network strategically – Focus your networking on the companies on your list. Learn as much as you can about the company, the challenges they face, how they hire and train their employees, what skills are required for success in your field of interest, etc. Use your contacts to identify other companies for your target list based on their recommendations.
Rather than scattering your networking activity broadly, a most focused, strategic approach is more likely to gain results. Network your way to your next position.