Who Should Really Be Part Of Your Career Network?

Do you know who would be a valuable part of your career network? Are you comfortable tapping that network when you are in a job search? Do you know what to say? If you understand who you should be keeping in contact with and what you should be saying to them, you will be in a much better position to job search and to grow your career.

Related: 3 Painless Networking Tips For People Who Hate To Network

Who counts as your network?

Of course, the top tier of people in your network should be people you work with or have worked with in the past, along with any former bosses or managers. When you leave a job, ask for their personal email addresses so that you can keep up with them even if they move on, too. The often overlooked part of your network can be a rich source of help or job leads. Who are these people? How about everyone? This includes past clients, customers, or vendors (anyone you sold to or provided services for, or people who sold to you), as well as people you may not have regularly worked with directly, but worked for your same company in other departments. This may surprise you, but your career network should also include your friends outside of work (from your church, your clubs, your neighborhood), friends you went to school with, the friends of your friends, people in your alumni association, acquaintances, people that your wife or your brother work with, your children’s teachers or coaches, the parents of your child’s friends, and people you see on a regular or semi-regular basis (your doctor, dentist, hair stylist, and so on).

Why should your career network include such a vast array of people?

The bigger your network; the better off you are. Why? Because networking is not always about who you know…it’s about who THEY know. They will know people that you would never be able to meet in your daily life. For instance, I know someone who got a job through another mom she met at the PTO meeting at her son’s school. Another person got a job through his barista. They chatted over his coffee order about his job search, and it turned out that she knew someone who could hire him—and did. A similar situation happened through a manicurist. The point is, you never know where your next job lead will come from, so don’t close off an avenue just because you think it isn’t valuable.

The key to a successful network

Besides maintaining a total inclusion policy for your network, the key to networking successfully is being willing to provide information, introductions, or helpful hints to everyone in return. The more you help others, the more they will think of you and help you when they come across something. Plus, the more you have helped others, the easier it is to ask for help when you need it (in a job search or in your career).

What to say to your network when you are job hunting

First, always stay positive and upbeat in a job search, and let everyone know you’re looking. (Otherwise, how can they help you?) When you speak to people (or send an email), be upfront and clear about what you do and what you’re looking for. Ask them to let you know if they hear of anything, or simply ask for advice. If they know of something and are happy to recommend you, their recommendation should carry weight, and help you get the interview. Networking is a powerful way to find a job; but so is directly contacting hiring managers. Find out how you can maximize your opportunities in How to Find Unadvertised Jobs and Get Interviews. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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