This holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Years, we're taking a look at one thing you can do each week to lead you to a new career move in the new year. Last week we discussed quick and easy resume fixes. This week we'll tackle networking.
Networking is the most important and efficient step you can take towards finding your next job, and it isn't as hard or scary as people like to make it sound. Here is your step-by-step guide to networking in the new year.
Make a list of at least ten people you know who are currently employed
Keep this list somewhere where it can't get lost (I like to email these sorts of things to myself so I can't lose them). Make sure your list includes former bosses, former and current colleagues, and friends. If you come up with more than ten, that's great. If you can't think of ten, call a friend or family member to help you brainstorm names. I guarantee you know at least this many people. You can include family members on the list too.
Next to the names on your list, write their email addresses
If there are names on your list for which you don't have current email addresses, go to Facebook, LinkedIn, or both, and look up those people. Send them friend requests on those sites right now. If you don't have a Facebook or LinkedIn account, create one -- it only takes a few minutes. By the time you are done, you should have a way to send a private message to every person on your list.
Draft an email
You aren't going to send it until after New Years, but you want to have it ready. It should go something like this:
Hi [Contact's Name],
How are you? How is [name of Contact's child, pet, or favorite hobby]? How are things going at [Contact's place of employment]? I'm currently looking for a new [job title] position and was wondering if you knew of any openings. I hope everything is going well where you are and look forward to hearing from you.
Now just fill in the blanks, like your name and everything else that appears in brackets.You should have one of these drafted for each person on your list. Each email only goes out to one person or else it will seem like spam.
Wait until after January 3rd and then hit "send."
Networking is a great way to feel better about your job search quickly because friends and acquaintances are more likely to reply to your messages than strangers in HR departments. They're also more likely to be able to get you in for an interview than you are on your own. Even friends who don't know of any job openings will often introduce you to another friend who does, who might have another friend of her own who can help you too. Just sending out ten networking emails like the message above yields more progress towards landing a new job than sending out a hundred applications to strangers.
Now that you're prepared for networking in the new year, congratulate yourself on a job well done, relax, and enjoy the rest of the week.
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.