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Ask A Career Coach - How To Overcome Your Fear Of Networking

There are numerous articles today referring to the fact that most jobs are found through networking. A major industry study of 59,133 candidates found that 62% of jobs were secured through networking and direct contact.  So why does the word “networking” instill fear in the heart of many job seekers? 

Job seekers often state a fear of networking as many compare networking to cold calling. Networking could easily fall into “cold calling” if you give your network contacts a list of demands and ask them to help find you a job. The key to effective networking is to consider the act of networking as establishing and building mutual relationships one individual at a time. Also, remember to take the “me and what I need” out of your networking vocabulary. Focus on the individual, what you can learn from the relationship, and what you can give in return.  And to hammer home the point, networking is building a mutual relationship, not a relationship focused on one.   

The opportunity to network and build relationships can come through various channels. Consider a few of these options to expand your network:

Professional events where you can build relationships with interesting people that share your vocation and possibly learn a new skill or stay current on industry news.

Social events such as sports events, the gym, or your children’s baseball games.  One of The Frontier Group clients recently secured an interview and position through a connection he made at his child’s sporting event.

Volunteer events where you can give back, learn a new skill, and meet others with similar interests.  I joined The Frontier Group upon meeting one of the senior consultants while volunteering together at a career networking event.

Community job seeker events where you can learn current job search strategies and meet job seekers, professional volunteers, and industry experts.  Any one of these connections could lead to a future position. Another one of my colleagues volunteers for a local career assistance program. One of the job seekers she was assisting secured a coveted position due to a contact he made through the job seeker event.  The contact made an introduction into the company for the job seeker simply as a result of the relationship that was established.

Reconnect with former recruiters, connections and hiring managers that you may have interacted with previously. One of my clients recently secured a position by reconnecting with the hiring manager that she interviewed with over a year ago. She was one of two final candidates for the previous role. The company recently added a position. My client reconnected with the right person at the right time and was hired within two weeks.   

Directly contact hiring managers expressing your knowledge and interest in the company while marketing your value added proposition. Yes, this may seem a little like cold calling, but when done in a professional, sincere manner this can lead to a business information meeting and potential interview. The direct contact approach does require solid research of the company, knowledge of your value added, and impactful written communication. 

So tame your fears and consider a few networking options. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain including building many new relationships.

Paula Pope is a Senior Consultant at The Frontier Group. In addition to career coaching and outplacement Paula helps her clients identify their strengths and value proposition and create a comprehensive personal marketing campaign.