A successful job search involves an ever-widening network. Think of your network as having three levels:
- Inner circle, people you know very well.
- People you know but not well, such as neighbors and former-coworkers.
- People you do not know at all but would like to know.
The second and third levels are where you really want to focus because this is where you will have your best shot at tapping into the hidden job market.
First, reconnect with your second level people. Check what they’ve been up to and update them with your current situation. You might find hidden current opportunities. Also, this is a great chance to familiarize them with your newly developed brand. This way they can properly introduce you to third level people.
To grow that third level, you need help from the first and second levels. It’s the people you know that will help you connect with the people you do not yet know. Here are a few suggestions for people to network with at each level.
Inner Circle (people you know well):
- Partner or spouse
- Immediate family
- Extended family
- Close friends
- Close friends’ partners and spouses
Second level (people you know but not well):
- Friends who you have not contacted for a while
- Former classmates
- Sorority sisters / fraternity brothers
- Parents from your children’s schools, activities, sports teams
- Book, hobby, social, game, sport and religious groups
Third level (people you do not yet know)
- Industry leaders
- Authors and speakers
- Participants in internet groups
- Members of professional and industry organizations
- Fellow alumni
The easiest way to network with people you don’t know yet is to find a mutual connection – someone you both know- who can introduce you. LinkedIn makes it very easy to find mutual connections. This warm introduction is a powerful way to expand your network. But if you can’t find a mutual connection, reach out directly by commenting on an article they have written or responding to an internet discussion. Send an author or speaker a note. Send an email to someone you would like to know and simply introduce yourself and express a desire to connect
Growing your network should be a high priority. Set daily goals for reaching out. Customize each outreach to the person receiving it and thank everyone who helps you along the way.
Tell us: What are you doing to grow your network?