Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Art of Networking With Friends

Career networking isn't always just meeting people you don't know.  You will find that some of the best contacts you have are some of your best friends or family.  Yet often times we ignore working these individuals.  The thought goes that since these people know us the best, there is no need to update them on what is going on with our careers.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  So if you haven't been doing it, you should start networking with your friends more often.

Networking with your friends is an art form.  In certain ways, it can be harder than connecting with a complete stranger.  Because you are so comfortable with this person, it can be easy to just take your friendship with this person for granted.  That's why it's never a good idea to start out by asking for help.  Find out what they have been up to lately first.  Treat it as though you are having a normal conversation.  After they have finished, you can begin to describe your unemployment situation. 

When it comes to your friends potential connections, you should wait until they offer them to you before asking them.  If you noticed they have a connection at a nonprofit you always wanted to work for, you should not immediately ask if your resume can be sent to this contact.  You should first describe how you have been looking for work in the nonprofit sector.  If your friend thinks it is appropriate, they will more than likely tell you about the contact you desire.  Make sure to thank them if this is possible, and also ask if it would be possible to meet this contact in person.

Finally, make sure to return the favor.  Nobody likes the friend that is only there when they need help.  Always ask if there is anything you can do to help them out as well.  Maybe they know somebody that also needs help finding a job.  Or perhaps they are also out of work and could use some contacts themselves.  Whatever the case, make sure to offer whatever assistance you can.  As is the case with regular networking, this will make your friend even more willing to help you out.

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