36 Sources of Networking Contacts

by Denham, Thomas J. Thursday, February 09, 2012
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As you may know, networking is the number one job search strategy. One of your initial steps will be to identify a list of networking contacts. You may be thinking, “I don’t really have a network! Where am I supposed to find all these contacts?” It may be a real challenge to generate names, but the list below may help you uncover all the connections in both your personal and professional life.

1. Athletic Teams (ie. Golf League, Soccer Club, Softball Team, etc.)
2. Business Card Rolodex
3. Career Counselors
4. Chambers of Commerce Members
5. Classmates/Alumni
6. Clergy/Houses of Faith
7. Conference Attendees
8. Elected Officials
9. Email Address Book
10. Ex-employers
11. Family (ie. Parents, God Parents, Spouse, Siblings, In-laws, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, etc.)
12. Fellow Job Seekers (Share Leads)
13. Former Competitors
14. Former Co-workers
15. Former Customers/Clients
16. Former Supervisors
17. Former Faculty/Teachers/Administrators
18. Former Neighbors
19. Fraternity/Sorority Members
20. Friends
21. Holiday Card List
22. Lodges (ie. Elks, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)
23. Mentors
24. NYS Department of Labor
25. Neighbors
26. Private Clubs
27. Professional Associations
28. Professional Colleagues
29. PTA
30. Service Providers (ie. Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Therapists, CPA etc.)
31. Social Acquaintances
32. Social Networking Sites (ie. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, etc.)
33. Staffing Agencies
34. Telephone Address Book
35. Volunteer Activities
36. Volunteer Board Members

After you have developed a raw list of people, start to prioritize how helpful each one would be in your search. Be clear on which ones are in your “Primary Network” – defined as your closest connections and the people that are looking out for you the most. Networking may be uncomfortable for some people so contact these people first. Next, go to your “Secondary Network” – defined as a larger circle of relationships that will help you if you ask. Your networking list can be divided up into 4 categories of people:

1. Hiring Authorities – people that have the power to give you an offer.

2. Job Lead Providers – individuals that can generate job openings.

3. Connectors – people that can open doors to other people that might be either Hiring Authorities or Job Lead Providers.

4. Advisors – contacts that motivate and give candid advice about job searching, the field, your resume and cover letter.

I recommend that you develop a system or spreadsheet for keeping track of your progress. This could include such headings as the contact’s name, type of contact, company name, phone, email, website, date called, meeting date, resumes given, follow-up action and notes. Networking is conversation with a purpose – a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas, positive energy, advice, referrals, leads or contacts. Be sure it’s a fair trade and you are giving something back. Next week, I’ll discuss how to initiate and actually conduct the Informational Interview – stay tuned.

Dr. Tom’s Tip: It’s career search suicide to keep your job hunt to yourself.