I have talked before about the strength-in-numbers concept. Today I want to look at a different aspect of that concept and its impact on your career advancement. What got me started on this was reading a book titled For Executives Only: Applying Business Techniques to Your Job Search by Bill Belknap and Helene Seiler, executive coaches with The Five O’Clock Club. Although published in 2007, the book contains a wealth of information that is just as relevant and potentially valuable in 2012 as it was then. In particular, I’m focusing on the section about networking and direct contact as job search tools, including the differences between them.
The book presents three scenarios for networking, color-coded in terms of urgency. As you might expect, the green-light mode applies when your employment situation is satisfactory, while at the other extreme, you know you need to move out quickly. The authors estimate that in the former situation, you should spend 5-6 hours per month on your networking campaign. In the yellow-light situation, that amount climbs to 5 or 6 hours per week. They don’t give a number for red-light circumstances, but I’d be willing to bet it’s something like “whatever it takes”! If you’re in that situation, you’re either on your way out of your job involuntarily or you strongly suspect the business itself is on its way out.
According to the book’s authors, networking and direct contact are both valid pieces of the job search puzzle, and they define these terms as follows:
If you only have–or think you only have–a handful of people in your network, contacting those few is unlikely to generate much momentum in your job search. Even broadening your scope to include a bit of direct-contact activity probably won’t expand your network by much. While a job search might not be completely a numbers game, it’s likely that both contact quantity and quality are important. Consequently, you might need to consider your network-building options creatively and pursue them with determination.
The book provides some valuable job search tips centered on building a strong network, including eight “Golden Rules of Networking”:
Remember, those network numbers won’t build themselves. Your energy, persistence and critical-thinking skills can and will make a big difference. The key is to apply both networking and direct-contact approaches in ways appropriate to your specific job and career circumstances.