cocktail-party.jpgI keep talking about how important it is to network in order to land a job, but are you really listening?

I see you glaze over when I mention how you have to go out there and meet people. You think I’m nuts when I suggest that a possible job lead can come from some guy or gal you meet at a boring cocktail party you really don’t want to go to. And you really roll your eyes when I suggest you tell the old friend you meet by chance on a line in the supermarket that you’re looking for a new gig.

“Networking doesn’t really work,” I sense you thinking.

Or maybe you’re just afraid to go out on a limb like that. Meeting new people, or asking for help might make your palms sweat just thinking about it.

Such networking fears and misconceptions can doom your job prospects, according to Tom Dezell, author of “Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naive Job Seeker.”

From what I hear from job seekers lately, networking is the primary way they end up getting jobs they enjoy, but you all still spend most of your time posting your resumes on job boards.

Time for some networking tough love.

The key is overcoming the following eight common misconceptions and job-seeker excuses, Dezell advises:

* 1. I anticipate a short job search. I will not start networking unless the search takes longer than anticipated.
* 2. I know a contact within a company, but she does not work in my field or department. I will not contact her since I doubt she can help me.
* 3. My friend/relative/neighbor works in a different field than I do. I do not see how they could possibly help me in my job search. Why identify that I am looking for work and embarrass myself?
* 4. Embarrassment
* 5. I have not spoken with this former colleague in X number of years. I feel very uncomfortable contacting him now that I am seeking employment - he might see my effort as transparent, only calling when I need something.
* 6. I don’t need or want anyone’s help; I can find a job on my own.
* 7. Networking is an imposition on busy people.
* 8. Government agencies have strict regulations covering their hiring process. Because the agencies must document adherence to these regulations, networking for government work will not be advantageous.

Once you get over these, he’s got 12 strategies you can follow in order to get some networking mojo:

* 1. Make a minimum of two contacts per day (or a predetermined time period) that are beyond your normal comfort range.
* 2. Never assume a no.
* 3. Target the “decision maker.”
* 4. Perfect your introduction (30 sec. commercial or elevator speech)
* 5. Focus all contacts on seeking advice rather than specific job openings.
* 6. Offer the contact something beneficial.
* 7. Show appreciation to people who offer helpful advice.
* 8. Always ask for additional contact names.
* 9. The more people that know you are seeking a job, the more potential leads you will get. Be open to any situation as having potential.
* 10. Establish a network email list.
* 11. Remember that improving your network is a marathon, not a sprint.
* 12. Once you get you next job, continue to build your network.

OK, go out there already. Do something. If you do, tell me what you did at the end of this post. I don’t care how inconsequential you may think it is. As an added incentive, I’m going to send one lucky reader/networker I choose randomly a copy of Dezell’s book.

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