Boiling Down the Essence of Networking for Job Seekers

Tomorrow I am speaking at an event for job seekers. I have 20 minutes to give them vital information on using networking to help them find a job. What can I say in that little bit of time that will help them as much as possible?

First, they need to be convinced of the benefits. I think there are three main ways that networking helps job seekers:
  1. It exposes the hidden job market. According to, less than 20% of jobs are ever advertised. The way to find these jobs is through networking.
  2. You'll get insight into companies and job titles. People who've worked for specific companies or in particular job areas can give you information not otherwise available.
  3. The next time you're in a job search, you'll have a stronger, more useful network helping you (assuming you stay in touch with people you met in your first search).
Second, they have to be very good at explaining what they are looking for in as few words as possible. The worst things I see people who are in a job search do are: 1) stumble and stutter when asked "what do you do?" and 2) go on at great length about a wide variety of jobs they are willing to take. Act as if every conversation you engage in while networking is a mini job interview. You never know who you're talking to or who they know, so it's important to make a great impression in the short time you have.

Third, if they haven't networked much before, they can be reassured by knowing that networking consists of just four very simple steps, repeated over and over.
  1. Go Places
  2. Meet People
  3. Exchange Value
  4. Maintain Contact
This is 20 minutes of presentation. I hope that it gives them a good place to start networking. In my three years of speaking to the Central Valley Professionals Job Club, I've found that a lot of mid-level professional people haven't done a lot of networking or haven't done it for a long time. They are rusty, but just need some ground rules and encouragement.

Anything else vital that you would tell them?


  1. I actually wrote about a similar topic just yesterday. I made the parallel between having a strong personal brand and being picked first for sports on the are my three key rules:
    1) Be Authentic
    2) Have Value
    3) Know how to Communicate

    The full blog post can be found at

  2. I would say, you should only apply for a job you really want to do! No matter how many rules and valuable suggestions you follow, if you hate your job, you'll be never good at it and you life becomes a living hell.
    If circumstances force you to take every job offer coming along, then take it and use every minute to work on your dream.
    A good place to start networking might be twitter - easy to use, a lot of helpful tools, and within 140 characters you can't say too many wrong things.
    The fastest start to actually talk to people who are willing to hire you might be Xing ( This is a platform where you can present yourself, and create a CV in your profile and actually start looking for job offers. It's free (with certain limitations) but in the beginning I don't think it's necessary to upgrade and become a paying member (especially if you are on a thight budget). Check other peoples profiles in the beginning and you know how this can be done.

  3. I recently sat on a panel addressing job seekers. My advice included the following points:

    Show up - you can build a reputation for being dependable
    Be on time - always
    Have a good attitude - no one wants to work with a whiner
    Don't burn bridges - especially in a small community, everyone is connected to your network

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