Job Search Preparation: Networking

shutterstock_89779624Networking is a key component to preparing for your job search. If you’ve ever heard it said that it’s not what you know but who, then you’ve heard a reference to networking. Although you may know about the importance of networking, you might not know where to begin, or how to go about it. Here are some networking tips for your job search preparation.

Begin with the Familiar

Sources say that it’s best to begin with those who you know, and who are fairly close to you. That takes a great deal of pressure off, and helps you begin your networking on familiar ground. Also, close acquaintances and friends can be honest with you about your approach.

Informational Interviews

Networking is intended to be a learning experience. Conducting informational interviews is one way to learn a great deal without pressuring the other person. When you do an informational interview, you are just speaking with someone who is successful in a field that you would like to enter. If you want a career in restaurant management, for instance, you can conduct informational interviews with restaurant managers to get their take on things. Make it clear that you are not searching for a job at that time; you are just gathering information.

In this kind of interchange, you will be asking the questions for the most part. As you meet with the professional in your chosen field, bring along a notebook and take notes on what the person tells you. And him or her questions about hours, work level, first steps he or she took to get started, and other pertinent questions.

Make Them Comfortable

It’s important to make the networking partner feel at ease and comfortable. Keep the talk at a casual, friendly chat level, as if you are just having lunch with a friend (which you are!).

Be Memorable

…in a good way. The point to successful networking is to have professionals remember your name and have your contact information handy if they hear of a position or job in the field, or if they want to take on an apprentice or a trainee. So make sure you leave them with your phone number, email, and website address (because you will have a website – see below).

An Online Presence

To network in today’s world, you need an online presence. It’s a good idea to join social networking sites and to set up a blog or website. This makes you accessible to anyone who might want to look into what you do a bit further. It’s an easy reference to tell people your site’s address, too.