While the concept of “effective networking” continues to baffle and frustrate many job seekers, and involves a lot of subtle nuances, there are certain aspects of the process that are profoundly simple — as well as incredibly powerful, provided one incorporates them into the job search process.
One of the most important elements of a good networking strategy is repetition. Whether you’re networking for the sake of employment opportunities, or as a business owner or consultant, it does little good to make an initial contact and then invest zero effort in ongoing follow-up. As a rule of thumb, in fact, we encourage people to assume that if they haven’t talked to a person in their network during the past month, that person has likely completely forgotten about them — or has concluded that they either aren’t serious about their employment search or have landed a position already.
Perhaps one of the reasons we stress this point so highly, as well, is that we see this exact same dynamic play out among our own daily client interactions. During the course of our working day, we tend to spot and pass along quite a few leads, ideas, and resources to those clients of ours who keep us posted on a regular basis about their progress, company prospects, and goals. When clients go AWOL for weeks or months at a time, however, we tend to “lose energy” around their search efforts and become much less effective at assisting them. In some unfortunate cases, in fact, we’ll have a client resurface after being out of touch for months — and realize that we’d heard of a perfect lead for them in the recent past, but neglected to pass it along since we were completely unaware of their current focus or employment situation! This is simply a law of human nature. If people see YOU taking your career seriously, and following an aggressive game plan for success, they’ll be much more seriously motivated to lend a hand with your efforts, themselves. So make sure to keep them engaged and updated — often!
Are there exceptions to this rule? Absolutely. If you know somebody is going to be out of town for a while, or your instincts tell you that a longer waiting period is necessary between conversations with certain individuals, trust your judgment. In the vast majority of cases, however, we feel that these damaging networking lapses occur due to a breakdown on the tracking end of things, not due to a genuine resistance people have to hearing from you. We therefore encourage active job hunters to rely heavily upon the “Net” tab of our Job Search PhD spreadsheet tool (or another system they’ve designed) to effectively monitor the “last contact date” they’ve had with each person in their network. Through such a framework, you can avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon with your own network — and the costly consequences that accompany it!