Networking And Job Hunting: How To Find Your Hidden Acres Of Diamonds
Are you familiar with the Acres of Diamonds story as told by Earl Nightengale?
In it, Nightingale talks about a farmer who after hearing of the millions of dollars other farmers were making discovering diamond mines sold his land so that he could search the continent in the hopes of finding fortune.
After many years of futile searches, the farmer gave up and died broke and hungry. But the story doesn’t end there.
One day while crossing a stream on his property, the man who purchased the old farmer’s land noticed a light shining out of the water. When he checked it out, it was the first diamond of what turned out to be the biggest diamond discovery on the continent! If only the farmer had looked beneath his feet, he would not have wasted years trying to find riches that he already possessed.
Where Are Your Hidden (Job) Diamonds?
An April 10th post here on Sainoo titled An insight into tried and tested pointers for professional networking talked about hidden or non-advertised positions, and how networking can help you “round up on promising career opportunities without having to sweat for a job.”
Given that research shows that up to 85 percent of people landed their current position through networking activities, it is safe to say that in many instances your ideal job won’t be found via an advertisement but within your current network.
The question you need to ask yourself is how do you activate that network to find your hidden diamonds, i.e., job opportunities?
Here are the two things you must do from a networking standpoint to position yourself to land your next job.
Capitalize On Your Network
You have probably heard the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know that matters.” This saying is especially true when it comes to job hunting.
Statistics show that having a contact on the inside at a company with whom you may want to work significantly increases your odds of being hired. The first thing you should do when you enter the job market is to reach out to those in your immediate network letting them know that you are available and asking them if they are aware of any openings at their organization.
Even if there isn’t an immediate opening getting on your insider’s radar screen means you will likely be one of the first people called when there is an available position.
Beyond having an insider, you will also want to tap into the influencers within your network. For those of you who have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, I am talking about “connectors.”
Gladwell describes a connector as someone “in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions.”
The strength of the connectors in your network is that besides their influence they have contacts that span diverse social circles meaning that they can be the doorway to multiple career opportunities. Again, it is important to reach out to connectors to let them know that you are on the job market.
- Everyone who has a job is a potential insider. Reach out to them first to let them know you are active on the job market.
- Identify the connectors in your network and let them know you are looking for a new job. Provide them with an outline of your expertise and follow-up with them regularly as this will enable you to cast a wide but strategic net.
Expand Your Network
In my experience, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is counting the number of their connections as opposed to measuring their quality.
According to a Harvard Business Review ascend article, the more connections you have on LinkedIn, the less valuable those connections become due to a loss of “intimacy, discoverability, and trust.
While the HBR author qualifies potential connections using what he calls the “favor test” — only “connecting to people, you know well enough to ask a favor of or do a favor for, from my standpoint working your connections is more important than managing their number.
When you look to expand your network don’t make it about the number count, make it about your level of engagement such as establishing a strong presence within targeted LinkedIn Groups. As an aside, do not join groups which are comprised mostly of other job seekers or those offering career advice. Instead, join groups in which the sponsor or subject matter focuses on your specific areas of expertise and then showcase your expertise by becoming an active participant in online discussions.
- When it comes to the number of connections, focus on quality over quantity.
- Based on your primary areas of interest cultivate new relationships through online interactions via chat rooms and groups.
- Stay clear of groups that are meant to attract job seekers or those offering career advice.
Online Versus Offline
As someone who has been around long enough to remember rabbit ears on televisions and the first Apple computer, you may be surprised to find that most of my clients have come to me via an online connection and that I have never met the majority of them in person.
While I still like meeting people with a firm handshake face-to-face, in the emerging digital realm in which by 2020 there will be globally ten personal IoT devices per person, you are more likely to establish a meaningful, long-term connection online than at a local Rotary Club meeting.
Whether online or offline work your connections so that you can stand out from the masses and get to the head of the hiring line.
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