Networking Relationships: The Key to the Hidden Job Market Yes, it is about who you know. But, more than that, it’s about who you know, who you meet and the quality of relationships you have with those people. And that’s what’s going to help you tap into the hidden job market! Welcome to NETWORKING RELATIONSHIPS: THE KEY TO THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET. For a long time, networking has been a tactic for job seekers to connect with others to uncover and generate job leads. It can be done with friends, relatives, current and former colleagues, fellow students or faculty, and with those you don’t know. It can be done face-to-face, over the phone, or using Internet resources. (see online workshop on e-Networking) The job market will continue to be volatile in the short and long term, so it’s crucial that job seekers be able to apply more advanced networking skills to reveal this source of jobs. This workshop will focus on the relationship building aspect of networking that most job seekers ignore. Finding a job faster by utilizing relationship building is the key to the hidden job market. The hidden job market has been described in various ways. It is essentially those opportunities that are not advertised in the usual ways, via newspaper, Internet job sites, or company web sites. Percentages vary about the number of jobs in the hidden job market that are unlisted. But, the numbers range from 50-85%. Even with the lower end of unlisted positions, it is worth a job seeker’s efforts to tap into this resource. Once a position is listed, you are competing with large numbers of other job seekers, which only reduce your chances of landing a good position. Networking relationships allow a job seeker to tap into a company’s anticipated job needs, sometimes before they are actually formalized. Developing relationships or contacts with people who will know of upcoming vacancies or unannounced vacancies or who can lead a job seeker to those who do is the goal of networking. This workshop will describe in detail who to network with, what needs to be in place to establish a fertile ground for networking, and the skills needed to develop ongoing networking relationships. At the end of this workshop, job seekers will know: How to determine who to network with What the job seeker has to have to do effective network relationship building How to build relationships effectively, including tips for introverted job seekers How to network Know Your Interests and Skills Successful networking into the hidden job market starts with two key principles. One of them comes from the famous maxim - Know Thyself - attributed to the ancient Greek philosophers, including Socrates. In the context of networking, this means knowing your interests and skills well enough to talk about them in a way that will quickly showcase who you are, what you’re interested in doing occupationally, and what key benefits you have to offer. Some people have little difficulty inventorying their interests and skills. This is particularly true for job hunters who are focused on pursuing a lateral occupational move within the same industry. A sales representative with five years’ experience selling kitchen equipment to restaurants who wishes to find employment with another commercial kitchen equipment vendor is likely to have a solid understanding of his or her skill sets and continued interest in sales within that industry. That may not be true for an individual who has decided to seek work in a new occupational area or a different industry. This kind of transition can be accompanied by less than a clear focus on the interests that are motivating the transition. Understanding the relevance and application of skills mastered in one occupation and transferred to another can also be challenging. Students graduating from college can also find themselves in a similar situation in terms of translating skills they’ve learned in school to the workplace and clearly identifying their occupational interests. Getting a handle on understanding your occupational interests and skills so they can be effectively articulated in networking situations is crucial. If you have any doubts about yours, do some work to define them. This usually means taking the time to contemplate what they are and write them down. The mental discipline required whenever thought is committed to writing will help to ensure you have given careful consideration to the matter and also give you a tangible work product that will facilitate some of the other tasks required for effective networking. The second key principle for successful networking comes from another source of philosophical wisdom, albeit one that’s measurably more mundane than Socrates. Yogi Berra, a member of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame and one of the most quoted icons of professional sports, once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else." Having a clear understanding of the ultimate goal for your networking is just as important as clearly understanding your interests and skills. A poorly defined goal can be a prescription for getting lost in the process, and ultimately a failed endeavor. Set goals for what you want to accomplish with your networking so you can develop and implement a successful strategy. Once again, this is best accomplished by giving it some thought and committing your conclusions to writing. Your goal should be defined more specifically than just “getting a job.” Specify the type of position you’re seeking and the industry where you wish to work. By doing this, you’ll be identifying the community to which you want to become a member. Once you’ve identified that community, you can more easily research where it exists and seek out its members for information and advice. Reach Out to the Community of Interest to You Once you’ve identified the occupational/industry community you want to network with, you must identify individual members of that community as potential networking subjects. You should start with a list of your own personal contacts. Because of their familiarity to you, you should feel more comfortable about approaching these individuals to obtain information and advice to help you with your job search. Begin your list with personal contacts, including: friends parents relatives neighbors teachers church members classmates acquaintances friends of parents parents of friends However, you shouldn’t stop your search for networking contacts there. It’s necessary to go beyond your list of personal contacts to develop other networking subjects. According to JobStar Central, the people on your list do not have to be friends or even acquaintances. If you have ANY common connection, they are potential networking contacts. While this may seem like a daunting task, outstanding networking opportunities are awaiting you if you will simply take the time to do some research and make new acquaintances. Consider professional contacts, such as: employers co-workers former co-workers clients customers coaches doctors and dentists insurance agent merchants bankers professional association members Be Visible and Memorable through Professional Associations Professional associations for the occupational/industry area of your interest represent a rich resource of networking contacts. Members of these associations can offer you the insider information and advice you need to find the kinds of job opportunities that are available only in the hidden job market. To find these associations, you need only do some research. For example, Associations Unlimited, a database with more than 460,000 domestic and international associations, is available online through Regis University’s Dayton Memorial Library. You can search this database using keywords to find professional associations of interest to you. The information provided can include a link to the association’s web site, where you can find out whether the association has a chapter in your area. Ideally you will want to look for an association that has a local chapter within driving distance and holds meetings, seminars, luncheons or social gatherings on a regular basis. This gives you a chance to meet with members face to face. Go to your first meeting as a guest before paying membership dues so you can decide if the organization has contacts that will be helpful for you. If you find a good organization, student dues are often discounted and can be a good investment in your career development. An association that does not have a local chapter may still have local contacts you may be able to meet. Email correspondence with members of an association who have useful career information can also be helpful. Most organizations also have helpful career information on their web site. Also keep in mind that professional associations may have national or regional conferences that can offer networking opportunities. If you find a conference that would be a good networking opportunity, but learn that the registration fee is beyond your means, contact the sponsor and ask if you can volunteer at the conference in exchange for the registration fee. Some sponsors offer these arrangements, which can be exceptionally helpful to your networking efforts. If you get to volunteer at the conference’s registration desk, you’ll have a chance to personally meet many great networking contacts! Professional associations also offer opportunities to volunteer on various working committees. These volunteer opportunities can give you a chance to meet the shakers and movers within that occupational/industry community, who typically are the committee chairpersons. They also represent an outstanding way to show your commitment to the occupation, build skills and accomplishments for your resume, and impress the influential members of the committee with the work you perform on its behalf. Another way to get exposure to the professional association community is to consider writing an article for an association’s newsletter. Examine several editions of the association’s newsletter to identify the nature and scope of articles published. If you feel comfortable about writing an article on a subject that is of interest to you and that you would expect to be of interest to the newsletter’s readers, write an article and submit it to the newsletter’s editor. If it gets published, it could be read by many members of the association’s community. It’s a great way to demonstrate your knowledge in the area and to show your interest and commitment to that community. It can also raise your profile within that community significantly. Remember, being visible and memorable are crucial to successful networking. Some additional places to find strategic contacts for networking outside your personal circle include: Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development maintains a list of professional associations on its website. Internet Public Library also maintains a list of Professional Associations on the web arranged by subject area. General information on professional organizations can also be found on the Internet through Associations Unlimited. Link through the subscription at the Dayton Memorial Library web site. When you are researching careers through O*Net you will often find links to professional associations in the Additional Information section of each career profile. Chambers of Commerce Your local chamber of commerce can be an excellent resource for information and contacts in your field. Many chambers hold regular events where you can meet professionals in your community. The State of Colorado maintains a list of Chambers of Commerce in Colorado.There is also a directory of chambers of commerce nationwide at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Site. Business Directories and Trade Journals Contact names, as well as ideas for additional prospective employers, can often be found within printed and online business directories and databases. Some helpful resources in the Dayton Memorial Library web site include online, full-text articles and databases to help you find out about current events and new developments within industries, occupations and organizations. Resources such asReference USA, InfoTrac, Associations Unlimited and Business Source Premier can help you not only find contact names, but also keep you up to date with current developments in companies hiring in your field. Other directories include: Qwest DEX - Online yellow pages with keyword search capabilities Super Pages - Online business directory with corporate web pages and national 411 information Hoovers Online Directory of Companies - Search geographically by company name or industry US World Trade Centers - Most major cities have World Trade Center offices, many of which have online member directories. Network through the Regis University Alumni Career Network When you’re contemplating the ways you’ll reach out to the occupational/industry community of interest to you, don’t forget to consult the Regis University Alumni Career Network (ACN). This is a resource available to Regis University students and alumni through CareerLink. It represents a group of Regis alumni who have agreed to make themselves available for career development information and advice about occupations, industries, and employers. If you’re already registered in CareerLink, simply log on, then click on the “Alumni” button in the menu at the top of the page, and follow the instructions for searching the database for an ACN member who has the occupational/industry background and experience of interest to you. If you’re not registered in CareerLink, please call the Center for Career and Professional Development at 303-458-3508 to get registered. The ACN’s database is a work in progress. So, it’s possible you may not find the kind of networking contact you’re interested in meeting. However, don’t overlook this resource. It may offer an opportunity to network with someone who can provide you with invaluable information and advice. Create Your 30-Second Introduction Once you’ve identified the occupational/industry community of interest to you, you should be ready to begin preparing yourself to network your way into the hidden job market. Telling people who you are and what you’re interested in are the essential elements of this process. It begins when you introduce yourself to others at any networking opportunity. The introduction designed for this purpose is sometimes referred to as an “elevator speech.” It’s brief, usually not exceeding 30 seconds, and covers each of the following points: Your name; Your title or other identifying designation (e.g., sales manager at [name of company] or student at [name of college or university]; A brief description of the market you serve or wish to serve (i.e., who are the individuals or organizations to whom you now devote or wish to devote your efforts); and The key skills, strengths, and experience that comprise the benefits you offer. As a follow-up to these elements of your "elevator speech", you may also want to include somewhere in your conversation a request to the person with whom you’re speaking. The nature of the request will depend on the circumstances, but can be as simple as asking for that person’s business card and exchanging it with yours as a predicate to contacting that person in the future. This brief introduction must be well-organized, concise, and designed to make you as memorable as possible in a very short period of time. It’s important to script it out and practice delivering it until it flows naturally and doesn’t sound scripted. Ask for Information and Advice When you’re networking as part of a job search campaign, you should avoid directly asking for a job. Instead, ask for information and advice. People are likely to feel uncomfortable and put-off by someone who asks for a job. But, they’re generally receptive and forthcoming when someone expresses the confidence and trust to ask for their advice and treat them as a source of valuable information. Here are some questions/discussions you might want to use if you find yourself in a networking situation: Discuss trends in your field. (Do your homework first. Show your contact that you are knowledgeable about the field.) Can you suggest sources where I might obtain job listings or announcements for the type of work I am seeking? Can you offer other information or resources about employers in my field? What local (or national) firms are most likely to have the type of position that I am seeking? May I contact you if other questions arise? Can you suggest websites, directories, or other print resources that offer information about employers in this field? Do you belong to a professional organization? If so, how can I get in touch with the local chapter? Can you refer me to others in the field that might be available to provide me with additional assistance? When I talk with them, may I use your name? Who would you recommend I contact about………? I would like to know the names of people you know who.... (When you ask someone for this information, be specific and clear about the type of person you would like to contact.) Do you have a contact in……that I could call? Who do you know that I should know given….(the following circumstance) I am looking for…… Who do you know who could help me with this? Any thoughts as to what my next step should be? Is there any other advice or information that you would like to add? What qualifications does your company seek in a new hire? Do you think my resume is suitable for this type of position? Is there further information that should be included? Be Strategic in Your Networking Efforts Being strategic about networking means having a plan – for the organizations you want to connect with and the individuals you want to meet. For example, if you go to the meeting of a professional association with the intention of treating it as a networking opportunity, you must plan ahead. Ask yourself the following kinds of questions: Who are the individuals I want to meet? What kind of information and advice or other resource do I want to get from them? You may find that your plan is limited to meeting two or three individuals who work for small companies in the area of your interest, exchanging business cards with them, and establishing with them a level of relationship that will support your request for a more in depth discussion at another time. Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan before any networking event, and stick to it. Part of being strategic is also remembering to debrief yourself after every networking event. On a sheet of paper answer the following questions: Did I achieve my objectives? If so, what did I learn? If not, what do I still have to do? If you’re thinking this process sounds manipulative, you’re forgetting the essence of networking, which is building relationships of mutual benefit. In the course of your networking, you need to be a good listener to pick up on the interests and needs of the people you meet. Armed with that information, you can offer to reciprocate with information and advice that will be helpful to them. Networking is a two-way street, and you need to be vigilant for opportunities to help those from whom you are seeking help. The process is not one of manipulation; instead, it’s a necessary part of managing your career. Move Strangers or Acquaintances to Become Advocates One of the key goals of networking is establishing a relationship that will move a stranger or acquaintance to become an advocate who will refer you to a job opportunity. In order for this to happen, it’s necessary for you to teach those you network with about your competence and trustworthiness. Think about ways you can do this. The accomplishments you’ve achieved that are listed in your resume are available to address the issue of your competence. So is the work you may do as a committee member of a professional association, as suggested above. Your trustworthiness must come from the personal dealings you have with those with whom you network, including the respect you show them and the efforts you undertake to give them assistance. Building Relationships Many career seekers do not realize that networking is a mutually beneficial activity for both you and your contacts. Many of your networking contacts will be more than one-time interviews or meetings. The most rewarding part of networking is the process of building relationships with your future professional colleagues. The network you build can become a source of mutual support and shared information throughout your career. Your fresh degree and/or prior work experience can provide helpful information to your contacts both now and in the future, adding value to your networking experience. Know that you get more from a face to face meeting: Some people believe that communication has just to do with the words they use, they are wrong. A person communicates with his/her words, body language, appearance, tone of voice, gestures, and even with what he/she doesn’t say. In face to face meetings, there is power in the fact that we get to choose the words, body language, and tone of voice that we use so that we can best communicate in our own way using our natural strengths. Often people feel uncomfortable with networking, but being able to build good networking relationships requires visibility. This can be difficult for introverts or people who would rather focus on their jobs than on relationships. However, both are important… they really go hand–in–hand. Unfortunately, it’s getting more and more difficult To succeed professionally, it is important to develop a broad range of connections to other people. Even though networking may seem difficult for some, the skills necessary for successful networking can be developed! Many introverts find they will develop their own very effective style of networking in a field they find interesting. Below are some tips for introverts and people who find networking uncomfortable: Often career seekers assume that they are annoying people and that others don’t want to be bothered. In reality, most people will be glad to hear from you, especially when they see your genuine interest in their field. Networking it as much about listening as speaking, Be prepared with questions to ask to start the discussion. Everyone likes to be listened to. Your use of attentive listening is as important in making a good first impression as your handshake and introduction. When introverts find themselves in an uncomfortable group situation, they probably aren’t alone! They should look for other people who also seem uncomfortable. They will likely be grateful for a low-key, interesting person to talk with. It is often easier for introverts to attend events such as seminars or workshops that have a content-based agenda. These types of events often offer an opportunity to connect with others in a more structured environment where discussion of the information from the program can break the ice. When attending larger meetings, you might do some research about who will attend. While you don’t want to limit your contacts, it may help you focus on whom you would most like to meet and the kinds of questions you will ask, using your time and energy productively. Another way of developing more contacts is by joining professional organizations. Beyond simply joining and attending meetings, if you have time to become involved with a committee or project you will form relationships naturally during the course of accomplishing the goals of the group. Letters or emails of introduction can be an easy way to break the ice. Introverts are also more likely to be up on news and trends so occasional emails with pertinent information or articles of interest can be useful in maintaining contacts. It is also easier for introverts to connect by email because they can write and re-write a message until they feel it is right. They don’t have to worry about saying something wrong because they were caught off guard. Of course, the email should be used to lead up to a face-to-face meeting if possible. Phone calls and emails ‘just to catch up’ or share some good news is a good way for introverts to stay in touch. Remember to connect with others on small topics as well as on larger ones. When networking, introverts should rely on their support teams. Networking is challenging and will sometimes not yield the results one anticipates. It is important, therefore, especially for introverts, to rely on a team of supporters to encourage, and motivate and remind one another of the benefits of professional networking. Practice makes perfect. If you tend to get tongue tied, polish your “elevator speech” and practice a few interesting topics. Let your interest in the work of other people in your field lead you to make those phone calls and send out the emails. Believe it or not, you will eventually find that many networking opportunities in your field are too appealing to pass up. Be Patient Networking requires patience, persistence and a sense of humor. Although networking is your most valuable career exploration tool, it is process that takes time and hard work. Keep in mind that the end of a networking meeting is not the end of the professional relationship with your contact. Always ask if you may make occasional contact with that person in the future. Also make sure each contact knows how to reach you via phone and email. It is not unusual for a networking contact to learn new information that may help you after your meeting. Creating Your Future You are the best advocate for yourself in your job search. The odds are remote that the perfect job will materialize for you with no preparation or investment of thought and energy. If you have ever been involved in a sport, played a musical instrument or expected an “A” in a class, you know you didn’t achieve proficiency without practice and preparation. Why would any of us not do the same for a successful future? Developing networking relationships is the key. Harvey Coleman, in Empowering Yourself: The Organization Game Revealed (Kendall-Hunt Publishing, 1996), says that 60% of success is about “exposure.” It has a much greater impact on your career than performance or the image that you project (the way you dress, body language, posture, confidence, etc.) because “you can’t do it alone.” In all areas of life, we need other people to help us accomplish any goal that we set for ourselves. So create a plan for how you will proceed with accessing the highest quality of positions to which you aspire. Do your research; make your lists; practice your introduction and what you want to say to people to elicit their assistance; communicate with a positive attitude and tone of voice; create a system to keep track of contacts and information; follow up with people - send thank you notes and emails to all of your contacts and stay in touch with them (create relationships and avoid “drive-by” networking!); and invest the time and energy in your future because Effort = Results! We hope this workshop has provided new ideas and information to help you network effectively. Thank you for participating in this workshop, offered online by Regis University Center for Career and Professional Development. If you have any questions or comments about this online workshop, please contact us at 303-458-3508 or 800-388-2366 x3508.