There is a system of networking called a “3 degree connection”. It means that the job you want is within three connection points of the people you already know: Your direct contacts, their direct contacts and the third level contacts.
With the information explosion most companies are inundated with unsolicited resumes from people just like you. The problem is that you get lost in this sea of applications. The internet is fast but inefficient, as you are one of ten-thousand users. There is a jam-up at the door of opportunity.
Research tells us that more than half of all jobs come through informal channels: Past employers, peers, colleagues, friends, family and from those who know you indirectly through others. Think of it as a series of concentric circles: If you know 10 people, who can each access 3 others, and collectively they know 5 others, you have a connection with 150 people. Plus, you have something that the internet can’t give you: A personal relationship as a reference point.
This personal relationship and referral point is priceless to you. It provides you with a high quality connection rather than a high quantity of connections to those who have no idea who you are. How do you develop the high quality referrals?
Start with the “Inner Circle”: Direct contacts of people who can serve as a personal or professional reference. Prioritize this list. This is the group who knows you best and can vouch for your expertise, experiences, performance or results.
Next is the “intermediate Circle: These are the people who know you through others. An example would be a past boss (inner circle) who has a contact in another organization (intermediate circle) that has an opening.
Last is the “outer circle”: People who are the most indirect. You know about them through a secondary source that may be able to introduce you. This is the longest of shots, but still gives you insights as to where the open positions are located.
However you make contact, there are certain helpful guidelines:
- Make the connection as personal as possible: A coffee in the morning, a telephone introduction or a meeting at a social or association setting
- Never ask for a job directly. Suggest that you’re interested in learning more about their industry. Segue the conversation into the trends, directions and opportunities.
- Make sure you have researched the industry so you can add value to the conversation
- Make sure you have kept your skills current and don’t have unrealistic expectations
Digging out opportunities is a relationship building process, not a mechanical one.
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Tags: Career Planning, career tactics, Networking