This is “Chapter Review and Exercises”, section 7.7 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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We know the importance of networking. For job searches and career advancement, networking enables you to hear about unadvertised jobs or plum projects that could propel your career forward. A strong network is also beneficial for day-to-day personal needs—finding a good doctor, checking on a contractor, discovering a good place for Mexican food.
How do you know your network is strong enough to support you professionally and personally? Every few months, you should test the strength of your network:
For example, if there is a position open at Pfizer and you think you would be a very strong fit for that position, is there someone in your network that you can contact that may lead you to someone within that company? It could be someone at Pfizer or at a company that recently merged with Pfizer. It could even be a competitor to Pfizer, as competitors often know and network with each other. Testing your network is a wise thing to do because you can then strengthen it proactively.
If you have fewer than twenty-five strong professional contacts you could reach out to now, your network is too small. If you have deep, quality connections with a small number, this is a good start, but you also need quantity in your network. Make it a priority to meet new professional contacts. If you have the quality and the quantity, but you don’t feel like you could reach out today, then you have an issue with maintaining your network. Make it a priority to follow up with people you already know. As a bonus test, ask yourself how many people you could contact for personal needs. Look at the quantity but also the variety in your personal network.
When was the last time you had lunch or a cup of coffee with a contact other than your day-to-day colleagues or closest friends? If it is has been more than a month or you cannot remember, this is a danger sign that your networking is too insularNarrow or isolated.. You are not exposing yourself to diverse perspectives. Remember the preceding point about how important it is to maintain your network. Earmarking some lunch hours for your networking contacts is a great way to follow up with your network.
Mentors can be a tremendous help when you need to network. When you need some off-the-record advice or candid feedback, do you have people you can query who understand your role, your company, and your industry? If not, then you are not taking advantage of mentorship in your career. Mentors are more than senior people who can move you to the next level by sheer influence, although such a powerful type of mentor can have a place in your career. Mentors can also be your peers and often are colleagues who have an insight you don’t have and are willing to share it with you. Maybe they have been at the company longer and have a great sense of the politics; maybe they are superstrong presenters and can be your practice audience before you have a big meeting.
Networking isn’t something you can cram into last-minute efforts. A strong network is built over time and with deliberate attention to the quantity and quality of the contacts. Audit your network on a regular basis (set Outlook to remind your quarterly) so that you consciously tend to your network before you face a crisis situation.
No one likes a person who reaches out only when they need something. No one wants to be the person who needs something, but feels all alone. Build a strong network so that you can make requests without imposing. Build a strong network so you don’t have to go it alone.
Contact Manager is the place to store information about your contacts, how you know them, their personal information, information about their organization, and a record of your interactions. Everything you need to know about each contact is conveniently located in one place.
Spend some time reviewing the kind of information you can save for each of your contacts. Note that SuccessHawk provides you sample icebreakers to get a conversation started and questions to ask to keep conversations going. You will find that these features adjust as your relationship with the contact develops.
To populate Contact Manager manually, click on Add New Contact in the Contacts section of My Workspace and fill out as much information as you can in the forms provided. Or you can upload basic contact information from Microsoft Outlook, Apple Address Book, Gmail, Hotmail, and others by clicking on Import Contacts in the Contacts section of My Workspace and following the appropriate directions.
You can view a complete list of your contacts by clicking on View Contacts. Note that you can organize your contacts by the company for which they work, organizations to which they belong, your last interaction with them, or by the status of your relationship:
To open an individual’s contact information page, simply click on the person’s name.