If you're not tuned in to the power of networking yet, it's time to learn! An amazing 60 percent of jobs are found through networking. While that's an encouraging statistic, if you're new to networking or you haven't found it to be fruitful, it can be time-consuming and daunting.
Step 1: Before you reach out, do your homework.
Set goals and expectations
Before you get started, it's important to set goals and expectations for your networking efforts. What kind of job are you trying to land? What questions do you need answered? What kinds of professionals are you hoping to connect with? How can you make it easy for your connections to help you?
Be realistic. You should never expect to land a job from your networking efforts alone. Although it's a great route to take, it's highly unlikely your connections are going to simply hand you a job just because they know you.
Identify who's who in your current network
The great thing about networking is that we all start with a foundation of people in our network. Your current connections are your starting place for your efforts. We've all had past positions and former co-workers, past educational experiences and former classmates, and even friends and family who may all be a stepping stone to someone else.
Write down information pertaining to the people in your job network. Bust out an Excel database to keep track of what your current connections are doing and where they've been. Some things to note when creating your document:
-- Contact information. Do you even still have their number or email?
-- How you know them? If your list starts getting long, this column will help you keep track.
-- Past jobs. Are any of the companies they've worked for on your radar? Are there job openings at these companies?
-- Current position. Does their employer have any job openings that you're interested in?
Not sure of some of the answers? Try using LinkedIn to see if these connections have completed profiles. If you're friends with them on Facebook, you can also take a look at their employment history or reach out via direct message for more information.
Step 2: Expand your network.
Clean up your online presence
Before you reach out to any new folks, please, please, please edit your social networking profiles. Google yourself. Edit or delete pictures if needed. Professionalize your online presence. This is the first look new connections are going to have into your "life" ... so make it count!