Are you an IT job seeker being told "it's all about who you know," but recently found that you don't know as many people as you once did? The hard lesson being learned by many job seekers in today's IT job market is that they can not be a "fair weather networker." In today's job market, candidates are possibly competing with up to five other candidates for the same job. Building your IT professional network is not necessarily something that should be left on the back burner until you are in need of a new job. It should be a priority that is consistently developed.
If you need a quick fix to your professional network, here some simple guidelines to get you started.
Start By Showing You Are Serious
Have you updated your resume? If you haven't, how are portraying yourself as a serious job seeker if you have not started with the simplest form of advertising your credentials ... your resume! If it's been awhile since sprucing up your resume, make sure you're up to date on the best to present your technical skills.
Practice your approach with several contacts that are not the "Big Fish" in your network. Ask them for honest feedback. Here is an interesting article on networking approaches - 10 Tips for Networkers.
Start a list. Who have you stayed in touch with? Who have you lost contact with? Don't rule anyone out - they may now be an executive at one of your target companies. They may have once been a little crazy in college, but, so what, you might have been too. People do grow up and change, but that connection will always be there, so use them now.
Have A Personal Touch
Don't just create a mail merge spreadsheet and blast a standard note to your old contacts. Personalization can go a long way in reconnecting. Getting a job is not just about who you know but how well you know them. Include personal information in your outreach, such as where you met or the person's favorite sports team. Also, remember it is important to be honest. The initial reconnecting email should include personal information, as well as clearly stating that you are looking for a job. "Networking the Non-Spread Sheet Activity" illustrates the importance of personal touch.
Make It Easier Online
To avoid the potentially awkward re-introduction process, especially if you are shy, one smart way to track down your contacts is to build your network online. It's now much easier and quicker to reconnect using the tools already built into social media sites. These sites were built to maximize efficiency when managing large networks. Search for your contacts online, a very popular professional networking site is LinkedIn, for personal connections tap into Facebook and for industry knowledge tune into Twitter. Not to sure how to approach contacts using social media? Check out this quick segment from The Today Show.
Once you have rebuilt your professional network of IT contacts, don't let it fall apart again in the future. Networking is all about staying in touch and continuing to build and expand your connections. And return the favor. Someday soon, you may find yourself as someone's long lost contact who you can aid in their job search. By sharing information, you can become a great "connector."