Why Networking is Critical

At a recent speaking engagement to job seekers, I asked attendees to rank, on a scale from 1 to 10, how much they enjoyed networking. Some replied zero, others 9. When I asked how important they thought networking to be, almost everyone gave the same answer: 10.

Networking Research Agrees

Networking is critical. Research from the Institute for Career Transitions (ICT) studying long-term unemployed individuals, and the circumstances around which they find their next job, supports this. ICT Founder Ofer Sharone reported that 50% of long-term unemployed individuals found their next job purely by networking, in most cases with past colleagues or professional acquaintances. The other 50% of long-term unemployed individuals found their next position by more traditional routes; however, informal networking (such as resume review or personal introductions) still played a role.

Let People Know What You Want

In many cases, the old adage, “It’s all who you know” rings true. People do business with people they know and trust. Take me, for example. Before becoming a coach, I worked as a medical writer. I was looking for more writing work, and so decided to attend a networking event hosted by the American Medical Writers Association. It was a round table format, and I chose the seat next to a woman who looked friendly. We started talking, and I learned that she did the kind of patient information writing I was interested in at a company that I respected. “That’s exactly what I want to do!” I told her. She smiled, but said she had no need for writers at that time. About a month later, however, her department decided to hire additional writers. She remembered our conversation and reached out to me. After a writing test, I was hired.

Who Do You Know?

When you are looking for a job, you should be talking with everyone you know. Looking for a job in the music industry? Ask everyone you meet if he or she knows anyone in the music business. You never know where asking will lead. Case in point: a woman I talked with told me that she got her last job through her hair dresser. Her hair dresser!

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, I don’t know how to network, or I have talked with everyone I know, or I don’t know anyone. If that’s the case, I invite you to try this exercise:

Make a list of everyone you know. List your family , extended family, past colleagues, college friends, neighbors, and current friends. Include people you know from your gym, church or synagogue, and child’s school or sports team. If you can, next to each name, write down what that person does. You will be amazed at how many people you know, and you’ll be reminded of people you “forgot.”

After you create your list, it’s time to take action. Choose three people to reach out to. Talk with them, and see where the conversations lead.

Staying Motivated During a Job Search

“How can I stay motivated with my job search?” I commonly hear my clients ask. Staying motivated, day in and day out, is one of the biggest challenges facing job seekers. Job searching can feel like you are running a marathon with no end in sight. Or it can feel like being in a dark forest, with no clear direction back to civilization. Whatever metaphor leaps to your mind, having tips for staying motivated can help keep you productive so that you can find your next job. When you feel like you can’t reach out to one more contact, or check one more on-line job board, try one of these suggestions:

Choose one small task to tackle right now

The key words in this directive are “small” and “now.” When you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start or what to do next, set small, immediate, and achievable goals that are in line with your larger goal. Identify one small task you can accomplish and recognize how long it will take you to do it. You might choose to draft two emails to send to new contacts in the next 15 minutes. Or you might spend 20 minutes reading a blog by a thought leader in your field. Or you might find four networking meetings you can attend this month by searching on-line for 30 minutes. My clients often report that after they achieve one small goal, they have increased energy and momentum to tackle more.

Acknowledge the work you do

Being appreciated and recognized for our work feels good and helps us stay motivated. With no boss or coworkers to acknowledge your daily job seeking, you have to step into this role yourself. We all know that job seeking is often a full-time job. Be sure to recognize that you are working hard at it, putting in effort, and accomplishing tasks every day. If you do something that feels out of your comfort zone, appreciate your courage. If you write an original blog, acknowledge your creativity. If you describe your skills and strengths well in an interview, give yourself a metaphorical or literal pat on the back.

Start a mindfulness practice

Scientific studies show that having a regular meditation or mindfulness practice can not only reduce our physical and emotional responses to stress, but also improve our ability to concentrate. If you don’t have a regular meditation practice, now is the time to start. If you like guided meditations, you can easily download an app to your phone. Options abound, from free apps, such as Take a break! by Meditation Oasis, to more expensive options, such as the Vortex of Attraction Series. If you prefer to meditate on your own, choose a calm space, sit quietly, and focus on your breath. Notice yourself breathing in and out. Start by meditating a few minutes a day, and try to increase your practice to 15 minutes a day.

These suggestions are only a few of the many ways to keep you motivated during your job search. What other strategies have you noticed work well for you?