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Hidden Job Market Logo

The best jobs are never advertised.

Find out why and what to do about it.
How to network, research employers and create your own Hidden Job Market plan.

Get Networked!

BulletWhat is Networking?

BulletSources for Networking Contacts

BulletSources for Electronic Networking

What is Networking?

Networking is simply "talking to people." When people say you should network, they mean you should talk to people. People are happy to help others if they can. You need to be clear about HOW you'd like their help and clear about what you're looking for.

First, make a list of all the people to whom you can talk. These people do NOT need to be friends, or even acquaintances, just any and all people with whom you have enough of a common thread to initiate a conversation. If you can pick up the phone and call them, for any reason, they are potential networking contacts. Using this loose definition, most people have hundreds, perhaps even a thousand contacts.

Make the best use of your network by giving people an EASY way to help you. Rather than saying: "I am looking for a job. Do you know of any jobs?" ask for their tips, leads and suggestions. (You can be sure that if they know of a job that is a good fit for you they will include that as well!) Use the target statement you developed in Steps 1 and 2 to prepare a brief statement about what you're looking for and the kind of help you'd like to get:

"I'm looking for an entry level job in events management. Do you know anyone who is working as a convention planner or events manager? Do you know anyone who works for X company or Y company? Can you give me their name and telephone number? May I say that you asked me to call?"

[For examples of introductions you can use in networking, see Donald Asher's Sample 30-Second Speeches.]

Your contacts don't have to be people who can obviously help you. Don't limit yourself by thinking, "How could my neighbor know anything about events management?" Give your neighbor a chance to tell you that her son is an attorney for the founder of a large local association that plans conferences all over the Western U.S. This may look like a "long shot" until you consider that EVERYONE has a network. With assistance from your neighbor, her son may introduce you to someone in HIS network.

[Nervous about networking? Read How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy PeopleMeridith Levinson, CIO offers tips for Dale Carnegie Training, Michigan.]

Sources for Networking Contacts:

Remember: all you need is a connection that would allow you to call and say who you are, get a nod of recognition that there IS a connection, and ask for specific leads, information and introductions.

The Basics of Good Networking
Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter explains the difference between "good networking" (the kind that works) and "bad networking" (the kind that annoys.)

Personal Contacts

Friends, acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, church members, classmates, teachers, club members.

Professional Contacts

Employers, supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, clients, customers, fellow association members.

Internet Contacts

Subscribers to mailing lists you participate in, any personal or professional contact that you might communicate with via e-mail.

All the People Your Contacts Know

Just as you have hundreds, or thousands, of people in your network, so each person you contact is connected to others. You want to be able to call a stranger and say: "Phil Wilson said you'd be the best person to talk to about convention bookings in the East Bay."

Sources for Electronic Networking:

You can use e-mail and Electronic Mailing lists to expand your list of people who would be willing to return your (electronic) phone call. Electronic methods will certainly help--but they cannot replace your terrestrial networking ("talking to people.") People use their "gut feelings" to decide if they want to help you, to recommend you, to hire you. It's tough to get accurate "gut feelings" when you've never laid eyes on someone or even heard the sound of their voice. (Not to mention the risk of discovering that the "biochemical engineer" you've been chatting with online is really a 12 year old boy!)

[Networking Online Works, Money magazine article by Peter Weddle outlines online networking steps.]

Mailing Lists

E-Mail Discussion Groups or Mailing Lists are groups of people interested in the same topic--once you subscribe, you can send one message and every other subscriber will get a copy in their e-mail. You will get messages from the other subscribers too in your e-mail box.

Mailing Lists are an excellent way to grow your network. As you participate, sharing information and helping others, you'll begin to make friends and develop an electronic network.

Mailing Lists are also an excellent way to learn more about job openings and the companies in your field, as well as keeping you current on issues and trends affecting your profession. Jobs are frequently announced on mailing lists. If you're an employer looking for an Arts Administrator, the Fine Arts Administrators Group is a logical place to post your job ad.

One website, Catalist, provides 53,841 public LISTSERV lists on the Internet. Search for mailing lists of interest.

Getting involved with these lists can be a wonderful addition to your job search effort as well as an easy way to grow your personal and professional network. Let's cover some of the basics:

How do I find lists that match MY interests?

  • Explore Mailing Lists by Topic:

    Browse any of the 53,841 public LISTSERV lists on the Internet, search for mailing lists of interest.
    Search for mailing lists by keyword.

    TILE.NET/LISTS Alphabetical Guide
    Here you can select from 35 topical areas from "African-American Interests" to "Unix, VMS & VM."

  • You might also explore a FAQs collection:

    FAQS are "frequently asked questions" on particular topics such as "AIDS," "Aviation," "Stand-Up Comedy," "Medical Informatics." One of the most Frequently Asked Questions is: "What are the best mailing lists on this topic?"

    Usenet Frequently Asked Questions
    "This archive contains Usenet Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) postings in Hypertext format and in FTP archive textual format.

How Do I Sign Up?

Many mailing lists are open to the public but some, in specialty areas, require that you get permission from the moderator to join. (As you search through the available lists, you will find any subscription limitations or requirements noted.)

Smaller, informal mailing lists are run by actual people. To join, you send the moderator or "list owner" a request to sign on. Once a list reaches a certain size, it is much more efficient to have the list run by a computer program (listserv and majordomo are two popular programs.) You send a "command" to the software program to sign on, unsubscribe and to manage the details of your membership.

How Do I Write E-Mail Messages to Connect with my New Network?

With these mailing lists, not only can you make friends & influence people, you can also tick off a lot of people (potential bosses and colleagues) if you're not "up" on Mailing List Deportment 101. Please take some time and look at the Netiquette Guides below before you join the conversation!

One mistake anxious job seekers make is sending unsolicited resumes to individuals--or mailing lists--who haven't requested them. Another is approaching the list as if its only purpose is to help YOU find a job. It isn't. Make sure you know what you're doing BEFORE you write a message to the group or you could find yourself a very unwelcome guest.

The most productive approach is to get involved with the group (or individuals)--contribute your perspective and experience, help other people out with information or leads. You'll get noticed and--when you do ask for "leads, tips or suggestions" for your job search--you'll get the helpful response you hoped for. [If you're eager to distribute your electronic resume, check out JobStar's Resume Banks.]

User Guidelines and Netiquette, by Arlene Rinaldi
Also available in German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portugese, Dutch, Japanese, Swedish & Romanian--it's THAT good.

Full-text of Virginia Shea's Netiquette: short, snappy, on-the-money advice.