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GUEST COMMENT: The sociable route to a new job

People who’ve lost their jobs often feel uncomfortable about networking. You may have been content operating behind a brand name and networking in a business capacity, but networking on behalf of yourself is a different issue. Loss of a job can result in feelings of loss of identity. There is a tendency to shy away from what you may perceive as “self promotion”.

It’s worth remembering, however, that it’s estimated that up to 80% of people find their next role through networking. This is likely to be particularly true in current market conditions. Don’t underestimate the size and potential usefulness of your network in finding a role. Studies suggest a large proportion of the people who achieve new positions through networking find the opportunity via a weak tie (ie, someone they hardly know or have met via another contact).

Therefore, don’t limit yourself to the obvious networking candidates such as (ex-)colleagues and headhunters. Consider contacts through professional industry associations, alumni networks and social interactions.

Confidence and self-belief

If you want to be a successful networker, you will need to be confident and approachable and to have strong self-belief.

When meeting people for the first time, prepare ahead by thinking of various low-risk openers – for example, some personal information that is safe and impersonal but interesting and informative. You could start by saying something that relates to the common moment, the venue/event, the food, the host or how you are acquainted with a common contact eg, “Paul (the host) made a good choice of bar for his leaving drinks. My sister worked with him at ABC Bank for five years. Have you known him long?”

Show interest with empathy and alertness; ask open questions for clarification and encouragement. Once you have established a rapport, consider what is appropriate information to provide about yourself and your objective. Don’t be pushy but keep in mind what you want to get from the conversation, whether it is an e-mail address, a further meeting, or an introduction to another contact. For example, “Although my experience is in M&A, I am currently considering how I could translate a move into private equity. I would be really interested to hear your opinion/experience of how you have seen this work in the past?”

If you can find shared interests/common ground it will be a powerful springboard for future relationships.

Key networking tips:

· Understand how networking can be of value to you and others as a mutual support system.

· Develop your own style and approach – what works for you?

· Keep an open mind, look at every opportunity and realise that “today may never come again”.

· Be prepared, know what you want to say, and be precise. Your network of contacts can’t help you if they aren’t sure what you are looking for.

· Appreciate that effective networking is not a short-term solution to a problem: it is a key tool in building for your long-term career.

· Don’t get disheartened! For every person who doesn’t yield a result, there will be one willing to help.

Sarah Juillet is recruitment relationship manager at DBM Career Transition Consultants (Global Financial Services).

Comments (13)

Comments
  1. “If you can find shared interests/common ground it will be a powerful springboard for future relationships” – hardly ground breaking stuff…..

    On another note, would you like to join me for dinner Sarah?

  2. sarah juillet wouldn’t be american by any chance would she !!! ?
    I have never read such a pile of tosh in my life..who on earth gave her space on this page
    next week she will be talking about life coaches i fear !

    laughingoutloud Reply
     
  3. It may not be ground breaking stuff but after being made redundant and seeing my ex colleagues network their way into new jobs any pointers are useful!

    RecentlyRedundant Reply
     
  4. Laughing out Loud in response to your comment, no I am not American although I’m not sure this has any relevance. Until recently I spent 5 years in HR for an Investment Bank hiring for the front office and I now work for DBM spending a considerable amount of time supporting recently redundant bankers. The feedback I hear time and again (from Analysts through to MDs) is the need for basic tips on how to network on a personal level. Networking externally to a work environment doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The ratio of my clients securing new roles through networking far exceeds those going through headhunters. So whilst you may not find my advice useful, if this article encourages a few people to re consider whether they are making the most of their network it will have achieved its goal.

  5. RecentlyRedundant – I can see your point, and yes, Sarah does identify that a large amount of jobs are found by using one’s own network (not sure about 80% though?). However, its not a particularly complicated business. Spend more time contacting old colleagues and friends in the City, ask them how they are being affected and then ask them if they are aware of any opportunities going. The key point is to lose a touch of pride and ask the question!!!

  6. Sarah,,not America O.K I believe you
    You really worked for a Bank !!!!!! probably one of the failed one’s then
    Merrills or Lehmans ?

    laughingoutloud Reply
     
  7. A year ago Im sure you wouldnt have been so negative about Lehman or Merrills – so Im not sure what your point is LOL? Im ex Lehman and have recently got a job offer for a role I heard about through an ex colleagues brother (who I had never met) – Im not saying this is the norm but networking clearly worked for me!

    ex Lehman and doing ok Reply
     
  8. LaughingoutLoud – with your attitude towards business, I wish you good luck in you career. You are going to need it.

  9. Whoa – so you got a job? Nice one…

  10. This is one of the best articles I’ve read – it may come across simplistic but it is so very true. To get anywhere in life you must network, network, and network some more. Network to your heart’s content. Buy some books on serial networking and follow the tips. It is this game of befriending people, coming across the right way, only associating with people of potential use to you etc which has helped me be so successful in life, not only for career but on a personal scale. I have over 3,000 Facebook contacts solely of high-calibre achievers many of whom have helped me achieve my goals.

  11. Sarah, sorry but I would say you just repeat what others have said – the importance of networking. Your point does make sense. but don’t you see many jealous people out there? such as, ex colleagues, alumni…even if you helped them before… even if you share common interests…I doubt … I shared my experience before on eFC (http://news.efinancialcareers.co.uk/ANSWERS_ITEM/answerItemId-50003112).

    I do agree with you. I also find many securing new roles through network, such as their parents, uncles, clients…Laughing out loud. yes, these are reliable…

    anyway, I still believe there’re some genuine people and I want to be a genuine person. My point is to know some seniors. They may be more willing to help/promote young talented junior guys.

  12. Danny I read your story with interest and I appreciate that you were frustrated by the lack of help from your alumni network, however as I point out in my article networking is a tool for building your long-term career, not just to be used to find a new job. I concede that not everyone will be willing to help, but it is also important to keep perspective on the level of help you expect from individuals. Whilst it is true your alumni friends did not recommend you, you heard of the opportunity through them and your own efforts and determination achieved a successful result. Building and using your network to gather information and contacts is part of the job-hunting process. The key is to appreciate how much help each individual in your network is prepared to give you and utilise their help like building blocks to achieve your aim. Senior people may be in a position to actively promote you but you are more likely to hear of the job through your junior network – so its important to build a wide, varied network.

  13. Brava!!! Great article!!!
    I was a LB M&A banker until the recent crunch and now i am moving to another investment bank to do the same job. Of all my ex colleagues that have found another place, 99.9% did it via direct or indirect contacts. There are by far too many people on the market and to little demand for bankers to rely on anonimous and unpersonal head hunters that just use a portfolio approach to maximize the outcome for their job. A strong “genuine” network and the ability to leverage it are defintely fundamental in general and even more important in these special market conditions.

    The point on self confidence is key and the tips are very useful and smart.

    A great article, very well written and with simple but very smart points.

    Looking forward to more articles like this on efinancialcareers.

    Brava!

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