To kick off the “career tips” category this month, we thought we’d preach to our newsletter audience around the same topic we’ve been advocating quite strongly in both our private client sessions and periodic job search networking groups.  Simply put, when you’re networking as part of your job search, it’s not enough to simply let the other person know you’re in the market for a new position — you’ll get far more mileage out of the conversation if you make a habit of asking directly for specific help in locating the specific leads, referrals, and resources that are of most interest to you in a career capacity.

We emphasize this point so strongly because we’ve watched many people get placed in great windows of networking opportunity, only to walk away with almost nothing to show for their efforts.  This is most often due to the candidate, themselves, not taking the time necessary to figure out what forms of networking assistance would be most beneficial in helping them reach their goals — and then not having the assertiveness to actually ask the other party for direct help with the issue at hand.

As a job hunter, however, there are a multitude of quick and easy networking requests that can be made as part of a concentrated employment search effort.  These requests might sound something like:

— “I’ve got a background as a controller and CFO and am currently looking for some local recruiters who specialize in the accounting and finance field.  Do you happen to know of any good ones?”
— “I’ve just finished drafting my resume and am trying to find a few people who could give me some feedback around it.  Have you done much hiring in the past?  Would you mind taking a quick look at it?”
— “I’d love the chance to see whether my management skill sets could potentially be of use to Starbucks or Tully’s Coffee.  Any chance you happen to know anybody at either of these organizations?”

Time and time again, when we see job candidates frame their networking around these kinds of tactical requests, their calendars fill up quickly with positive developments and interviewing activity!  Simply giving a passive “elevator speech” followed by a tepid “if you think of anyone, call me” request just doesn’t have enough social octane to produce results in most cases, unfortunately.  So if you’re looking to increase your pipeline of leads and referrals, we’d urge you to be bold, enthusiastic, and focused in asking the people around you for help.  You’ll be amazed at how resourceful people can be once you hold up your end of the bargain and give them the precise clues they need to lend a helping hand…