It turns out, it is who you know, and who knows you that will lead you to success and a new job.
By far, the most successful way to land a job is through your inside connections, and the people to whom they could connect you, according to new research by Right Management, a career management and outplacement company. Almost half of the 46,000 people who received outplacement services from Right Management chose networking as the most effective approach to obtain a new job, and that has stayed consistent since 2009.
One-fourth of the job seekers said internet job boards were the best method and one in eight chose recruiters or a temporary or permanent employment agency.
The key question is: How do you network more effectively and more consistently?
First, you need to make it a priority, and schedule it into your week. Then follow these five suggestions, courtesy of Margaret-Ann Cole, regional vice president for career management at Right Management:
1. Open Up Your Expectations & Definition. Networking can take place on the phone, in an airplane or a shared cab, at a swim meet, via a Facebook message and in thousands of ways and places and forms. Brainstorm possible approaches that will lead you to the people and results you seek, suggests Cole. One of Right's most popular seminars in its New York office focused on networking at summer picnics to keep your job search going.
2. Use Technology To Get Closer. Take time to explore the finer details of LinkedIn. Get to know people on Twitter chats or at webinars and online discussions. Use these tools to identify the right people to contact, said Cole. "Find out who do you know, and who knows the people you want to get to?"
3. Ask For Advice. If you request an appointment to seek someone's insights or feedback or advice, you will rarely be turned down, Cole says. "It's a softer ask" than requesting an interview for a job or contract work. Then, during the discussion, "they might identify something that you never even knew was a possibility" for your career, she said.
4. Have A Defined Goal. Know what you are seeking so you can ask for it clearly when you request a meeting or send an email. If you need to meet decision-makers in a specific company where you want to work, ask for them. If you want someone to review your resume, request that. A focused request is easier to answer, and it also respects the person's time. "Don't waste anybody's time. Have a specific goal," said Cole.
5. Build Your Confidence. If you can put on lipstick or a tie, you can put on confidence for a couple of hours. One way to do that is to look at your brag book, or the positive letters and emails you've received about your work or projects. Another way is to help others - by answering their questions or by volunteering. Or, practice and practice your elevator speech even more or the three questions you really need answered in your 20 minute conversation. "It's all about giving people confidence," said Cole.
Remember, too, that good networking is a two-way street - that you need to listen carefully and give to others when they come seeking your advice or connections.
For those who are more comfortable going to industry association meetings or networking events, press your most professional suits and start adding them to your calendar now. But don't lose sight of the value of some one-on-one connections, too, whether over coffee or a kid’s soccer game.