Using your network is the most effective way of finding work. Approximately 60% of jobs are found that way. Moreover, it lets you identify jobs that are not advertised: the “hidden job market”, where a considerable percentage of vacancies can be found that vary a lot depending on the level of the position.
Boosting and making the most of your network of contacts implies hard work, persistence and dedication. You need to make yourself do things that, depending on your personality, you will be more or less comfortable with.
You should start by working out a network of direct acquaintances, relatives, friends, professional groups, etc. Naturally, you “must” create your LinkedIn profile very carefully and it is very useful to build your network here too.
When building this network you should include those people you have had some kind of professional relationship with, and it is a very good idea to ask them for a recommendation if you are using LinkedIn as a tool.
Next we would recommend including in your network those people that might be in touch with top professionals in your sector or line of business. It is also useful to link up with those professionals that already have an extensive network, because that will broaden your network in their third level. Although there is a great deal to be gained by making new contacts, the best work contact in your network is a person you have interacted with on more than one occasion.
But learning to use a network of contacts well requires practice, so it is useful to bear a number of points in mind. First, before contacting someone, decide what it is you want to achieve, what your aim is. You must be sure to make a good impression, especially the first time. We form a lasting impression of anyone we meet in the first few seconds.
Ask a close contact to help put you in touch with one of their contacts, if it is in your interest, or get in touch with them directly and mention your mutual contact. Briefly explain what it is you want, what you are looking for or need and how the person you are contacting can help.
It is important to fulfil all your commitments and make sure you keep a close eye on everything you are doing. If you have agreed to call or get in touch with someone, do it without letting a lot of time go by following the conversation.
Keep in touch with the people in your network by using all the means at your disposal – phone, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – but bear in mind that each one is more suitable for certain purposes and using it or not depends on the relationship with each person.
Being grateful and thanking is an excellent “fertiliser” if you want your network to grow, be healthy and “look good”, but you should avoid falling into the trap of adulation.
And last but not least, you should consider carefully the number and frequency of your interactions with your contacts. Your network is a “plant” that needs to be “watered” periodically, but if you “water it too much” you will drown it and not get any fruit.
Juan Antonio Fernández
Head of Talent- ACCIONA Human Resources