Eight Ways to Network Yourself to a New Career

A woman extending her hand for a handshakeAccording to professional job hunters, only 10-20 percent of open jobs get published on job boards or in classified ads. The remaining 80 percent remain unpublished — making these job opportunities accessible only through networking. People in your network can give you job leads, offer advice about a particular career path, and introduce you to others who can help you in your job search.
To help the people we serve achieve their potential and find new jobs and careers, Goodwill® offers the following “do’s” and “don’ts” of networking to help you make new connections and advance your career:

  1. Do brainstorm a list of contacts. Before you begin networking, write down the names of anyone you know or have heard about in the field in which you are interested. You can start your list with former colleagues, family, friends, neighbors and other acquaintances. If you are looking to meet new people who can assist you in your job search, build and expand your network by volunteering your time, joining a new organization and attending conferences.
  2. Don’t start by asking for a job. When you first contact someone, make sure to build a personal connection before jumping into your questions on a new career.  Smile, listen carefully, and stay engaged in the conversation to make the person feel valued and more likely to help you in your job search.

  3. Do consider informational interviews. If you want to learn more about an industry or career path, informational interviews are a great way to build relationships with potential mentors and contacts for your network. Make sure to come prepared with questions to make the most out of your time with the interviewee.
  4. Don’t forget to say thank you. It is important to send a thank you letter within 48 hours of your meeting or call to show your appreciation in order to strengthen your relationships with new contacts.
  5. Do use social media tools to connect with others. Web sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have helped countless job seekers meet new people and find opportunities to land their next job. Check out these social networking tips to help you use the web in your job search.
  6. Don’t forget your profiles may be public. If you are on social networking sites, make sure to keep your profiles, pictures and comments professional. You can also set privacy settings on many social networking sites to control who can view your profile.
  7. Do ask for referrals. To continue to build your network and learn from others, ask new people you meet to introduce you to others who might be able to help you in your job search.
  8. Don’t stop networking when you get a job. Make sure to keep in touch with people and maintain your newfound relationships – you never know the next time you will make a job switch or take a new step to advance your career!

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