Did you happen to read my last post?  If so, you might remember the hypothetical scenario I laid out involving Bob #1, a more reserved character who typically engaged in “soft” networking, and Bob #2, a more assertive chap who routinely displayed “hard” networking qualities by being proactive and unabashedly hitting people up for favors, help, and assistance.

For those who still might be identifying more with the networking style of the first Bob, versus the second, let me outline a few additional guidelines that might help you get in the right mindset:

1) Assume that everybody you meet has SOME way they can help you; assume this because it’s true!

2) Take the time to clarify your career goals, up front, and then determine the specific kinds of information, advice, and feedback that will be most useful in helping you make progress toward these goals

3) Don’t ever feel bad or ashamed about asking people for favors; it’s allowed, as long as you’re unfailingly sincere and willing to reciprocate when the time comes

4) Embrace your unemployment status; don’t hide the fact that you’re actively looking for work, since you don’t want to confuse people, come across as coy, or imply in any way that you’re embarassed about this (now) very common situation professionals run into today

5) Don’t ask people directly for referrals, especially if you don’t know them all that well; let them enthusiastically volunteer referrals, instead, once you’ve clearly outlined your goals and the types of contacts/companies you’d love to meet

6) Don’t worry about crossing the line and being too pushy; if you’re already concerned about this, at any level, I suspect you’re a pretty thoughtful person who would almost  never come across as inappropriately aggressive in these situations

7) Follow-up like a pro; offer genuine thanks to anybody who lifts a finger to assist you and then close the loop with them, after the fact, to let them know their assistance made a difference

Is this style of “hard” networking still a bit out of your comfort zone, despite the above tips and suggestions?  If so, don’t worry, that’s pretty normal.  But then again, a lot of “normal” people have been out of work for a long time in the current market, so if you want to shave some time off your employment search, this may a great time to take a chance and get out of your comfort zone a little.  Referrals are the lifeblood of the job search process, at the end of the day, and you’ll generate many more of them if you put yourself out there — and aren’t afraid to engage people proactively as allies in your quest.

Put another way, I know plenty of people who have sent out 100+ resumes without getting a job.  I can’t think of anybody I know, however, who has garnered 100+ referrals during the course of their job search without landing a position!