The right way to network

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Past generations often did not tell individuals that they were out of work. They mistakenly thought that it would reflect poorly on them. Well, it's a new day! People are openly talking about everything from divorce to addiction to job loss. We've learned that there's support out there. And we're not afraid to access this previously untapped resource. Here are a few tips to networking:

1) Brainstorm -- As you begin your search, take time to brainstorm about contacts in the industry of your choice. List individuals who might be willing to share their information and expertise with you. Also, note professionals who might be able to link you with representatives in your field. These contacts may have the power to hire you or they may be able to connect you with decision-makers. Think of everyone from church to daycare to associations to your schools.

2) Prioritize -- Review your completed list. Then rank the contacts in order of priority. Who do you want to call first, second, third? Only you can decide. But the answer has to do with who you believe can give you the most "bang" for your "buck." Decide where you will get the most return for your investment.

3) Work It -- Work your networking list based on your established priorities. As you work the contacts, other names will surface. Don't dismiss any name too easily. You don't know who they might know or who they might be able to introduce you to. Incorporate all names into the list and continually prioritize as you go. Ask for an informational interview or meeting whenever possible.

4) Resumes -- Provide a current resume to each contact when you meet with them. (They may even ask you to e-mail it.) Make sure that you have extra resume copies with you in case they want to forward it on to other folks.

5) Thank You Notes -- Manners count! Send a personalized thank you note to every contact that you encounter even if all that person did was to refer you on. People remember those individuals who take time to extend professional courtesies.

6) Don't Throw That List Away -- Get a job? Congratulations! But don't throw that networking list away. Send a note to anyone who helped you and, once again, thank them for their support during your job search. Ask them to continue to keep you in mind as opportunities arise. Maintain their contact information for future reference.

For more information, contact New Directions Career Center (NDCC), a non-profit United Way agency, at (614) 849-0028, extension 100. NDCC assists individuals regardless of their ability to pay.