Survey: Networking is Top Tool for Job Seekers

It's not surprising to me that networking is considered to be an effective job seeking strategy. But a survey released today says that human resource professionals consider it to be the most effective of any strategies. The survey, conducted by an outplacement firm, asked the HR executives to rate a number of job search strategies on a scale of 1 to 5 (one is least effective, five is most). On average, they scored networking at a four. Sending out resumes, the "tried and true" method, scored less than true. And, justification for you Twitter addicts: social networking ranked second highest.

Guess what, job seekers? Send less time sending nearly anonymous resumes and spend more time meeting new people and more time exploring the connections of your best contacts. And use the internet social media sites to enhance your in-person efforts.

While it's a bit of a stretch to apply this to small business owners (especially those in multi-level or direct marketing companies), I'm going to make a connection anyway.

Sending out resumes is like sending out direct mail pieces. You might have researched your targets, narrowing down a certain segment or conducting research that indicates they might be a good prospect, but it's still an impersonal effort.

Job fairs (which ranked the worst) are like cold-calling. You and 50 other people are trying to get the attention of just a few employers or potential buyers. Cold-calling requires thick skin and a willingness to put in a lot of work to make the numbers add up.

Networking on the other hand, means that your efforts are extremely targeted. Someone is recommending you, vouching for you. You're not a faceless resume or cold-call. You're someone's referral or a friend of a friend who can be trusted.

And just like job searching, it's important that networking is not your only job search or business promotion activity. Treat it as your flagship effort, but back it up with other activities so that you don't depend on one facet of a job search or business promotion effort.

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