Management Consultants are a particularly rich source of contacts, e.g. those with whom you may have worked. Remember, these professionals have extensive dealings with potential employers and often have inside information about potential needs with their client companies and organisations.
Remember to join those professional organisations which represent your industry or kindred ones and make a point of attending those functions where you think there will be opportunities for meeting people.
Your goals as a networker are simple and can be summarised as follows:
- By gathering information about industry or professional trends, problems and needs, you will be able to more accurately define your target market and you will come to understand yourself as the potential solution to those problems and needs.
- Networking enables you to enlist additional eyes and ears in your career search. By bringing your contacts into your search for new employment, you’re less likely to miss opportunities that are never advertised or listed with recruiters. Thus, it is important to maintain communication with your contacts during the course of your networking.
- Your objective in networking is to get referrals from your contacts and meet even more people who will give you valuable insights and even keep an eye open for you. In fact, you will know you are networking correctly when you begin meeting new contacts who were previously strangers. Sadly, there is a widespread misconception that networking consists only of contacting those you already know and usually only by phone and asking them if they know of any openings. In the eyes of an outplacement/career transition specialist you are networking only when you are meeting people you have never met before.
There is no hidden agenda in networking. You are simply trying to get advice, guidance, information, ideas and names. You are not asking them for a job and you should never intimate that you are. Again, advice, information, insights, and names are what you want from your contacts and that’s all you should expect. Sometimes this can lead you to extraordinary places.
Never rule out visiting somebody whose role is markedly different from your field of endeavour. If you’re an accountant and somebody suggests visiting a nuclear physicist, go ahead and arrange the meeting. The fact that they are working in nuclear physics doesn’t preclude their knowing people, either in their business network or in their social network, who could be in the same industry or in similar jobs as you. Usually, you will find that if you are recommended to contact a person in an industry far different from yours, he or she will turn out to be very gregarious and a rich source of referrals.