Networking by the Numbers

by Donlin, Kevin Friday, August 07, 2009
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You’ve been told that networking is the best way to find a job.

But, unless you’ve been hired that way, it may be hard to appreciate how effective it can be.

So, recent research on the subject may open your eyes to the power of networking.

In a February 2009 survey, 430 members of the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) gave feedback on how they had recently searched for work.

When asked how they found the job they eventually took, the top four responses were:

* Networking with professional contacts: 37%
* Recruiters/headhunters: 24%
* Networking with family, friends and acquaintances: 14%
* Job boards/job search web sites: 9%

Combined, networking accounted for 51% of successful job searches.

But how to do it?

The best way to network is to “find people you can provide value to. Don’t go asking for help, but try to give to people first and expect help later,” says Richard Sellers, Chairman of MENG, which has chapters in 12 U.S. cities.

“I really like to hear from people who ask, ‘How can I help you?’ These are the people you spend more time with and are more likely to assist” in a job search, according to Sellers.

Separately, respondents were asked what they wish they had spent more time doing in their job searches. They listed the following activities:

* Networking with professional contacts: 75%
* Using social media, such as LinkedIn: 49%
* Networking with family, friends, and acquaintances: 37%

Again, networking appears twice in this list.

Sellers offers these tips to help get the most from your job-search efforts:

* Emphasize networking, especially with your professional contacts
* Spend two to three times more effort developing your professional networking contacts than with family, friends, and acquaintances
* Develop relationships with recruiters
* Be realistic about the likely payoff of job boards/job search web sites
* If your previous employer provides outplacement, utilize that support, but be realistic and don’t expect them to provide job leads.

Question: Which three people in your professional network of people you’ve known, in any job since high school, seem most-connected in your community?

Action Step: Find a way to be helpful to them this week.

Don’t know how you can be helpful? Ask what they need help with these days — then find a way to deliver. You don’t have to know the answer. The fact that you’ve offered to help will make people remember you with favor and possibly job leads.