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The cliché “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is only partly correct in today’s employment market.  A more accurate expression is “It’s not who you know, but who knows what you know.”  Networking is both a process and a skill that can open doors to opportunities that might otherwise stay closed.  Networking is building professional relationships with contacts, both business and personal. The goal of networking is not quantity but quality.  Your goal is to make contacts and to hear of companies with a problem to be solved (if you can solve it there may be a job for you), that are expanding or winning new orders (they may need to take on additional staff), or have unpublicized job openings (people leaving a company or a new position being created).  If you learn of a vacant or new position before a company advertises the position you will more effectively compete for that job.  Companies have created positions just to utilize a person’s talents.

Your success in networking will depend on your ability to communicate and interact with other people. If you find it difficult to communicate or socialize with other people easily, then you may find networking more of a challenge. If, on the other hand you, are outgoing, enjoy meeting new people, and possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills, you will take to networking very quickly.

To successfully network you must be prepared to talk to people both on the phone and in person. You may be talking directly to the decision makers and must be confident. These people will always be busy, so pick the right moment to approach them.  Intrigue them quickly in any conversation so they do not lose interest. As with any form of job search, realize you will face rejections. Be prepared with a polite response.

Networking to find a new job can be very effective and should be used in conjunction with other traditional methods.

Watch our Building a Professional Network Movie.