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Understanding Relationship Networks


Enda Goodwin
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Networking is simply talking with people, exchanging information about any number of topics from the mundane to the very serious. Most of us are involved in a number of different types of networks based on relationships.

The definition of relationship networks

Relationship networks are made up of people who share certain interests, values or activities with you. They can be people from your work place, your church or school, and they can be teammates from your local softball league.

Everyone you know and talk with is a member of your relationship network. Remember them and the potential contacts you can make through them when you’re looking for a job!

What do relationship networks bring to your job search?

There are many reasons for networking, but these are the most important:

  1. Get your message out. The more people who know you are qualified and available, the better the chances that the information will get to the right person at the right time. Let your network know what your professional objective is. Be positive about your new chapter, and chances are, they are likely to help you spread the word.
  2. Gather marketplace information. The more information you can find on your target market, the more effective you will be in your search. Who are the key players in this field? What are the current challenges to these organizations?
  3. Accumulate detailed information on your target organizations. Research is vital to a well-executed job search. Sure, you can get a lot of information about a company online, but talking to people who are at the company or have been an employee there is your best bet for getting the real story about the organization. Or perhaps you know someone who is a competitor to the target company. People on the inside will give you the most valuable insights.
  4. Get advice and ideas. Showing someone your list of target organizations and asking for their ideas and suggestions can be an effective networking technique. It may produce targets you had not considered. By showing initiative and being open to someone’s suggestions, it may even lead to an introduction to a potential employer.
  5. Locate sponsors or mentors. Whether you’ve thought about it or not, you have someone in your network who has taken a particular interest in you. It could be a former colleague or boss, or someone you’ve met through your online network who gives ideas and encouragement. Take advantage of this situation as they may be the sponsor or mentor you need to give you that industry advice or even an introduction. These people are golden in your network.
  6. Get referrals. In a recent LHH survey, recruiters told us that the most effective method in sourcing candidates was through personal referrals. This was followed closely by networking, and through people’s LinkedIn profile. So you need to get your network talking about you, introducing you to potential employees. And don’t be afraid of asking them to write a referral on your LinkedIn page. They will want the best for you and will most likely oblige.

Embrace free agency

You may not be actively looking for a job, but recruiters and hiring managers are actively looking for the best candidates. Social networks are vast talent pools. Recruiters and hiring managers no longer need to wait for a résumé to present itself to them, they’re actively seeking out the best and brightest talent. Whether or not you’re looking for a new position, continue to engage on social networks so that you’re top of mind when a plum role opens up.

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