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Posted: December 21, 2011

Top 10 networking tips for the January bubble

Don't shoot yourself in the foot

John Heckers

Some job-seekers have gotten discouraged with networking as their activities have not resulted in job leads or interviews. Those who feel this way are shooting themselves in the foot. Here are ten essential networking tips to prepare for the coming January hiring bubble.

1). It isn't a one-shot deal. Too many people get discouraged if the first networking contact does not produce "results," with "results" meaning a job lead, interview or lots of names. The fact is that you cannot trade on trust you do not have. True networking takes numerous meetings and giving on both sides.

2). Your networking activities are not private. Whatever you tell people in networking is likely to get out. Don't share information you don't want shouted from the rooftops. Realize, too, that your demeanor, attitude and even punctuality will get around. Denver is a very small town. Reputations matter.

3). Don't be the networking nerd. A networking nerd is always looking out for number one - themselves. This isn't networking. It is social vampirism. As in most things in life, giving a bit first will result in giving back. Latching on to someone and demanding help is likely to get you branded as someone to avoid.

4). Networking is a numbers game. There is an old saying that you have to kiss a lot of horny toads to find a handsome prince. The same is true with networking. You must meet a large number of people to find someone who will help you and stand by you. Don't get discouraged if the first ten (or even twenty) people you meet are useless to your job search. Keep networking and meeting people.

5). Networking is NOT just a numbers game. While you need to meet a large number of people, there is much more to it than numbers. Quality counts. Just meeting person after person is not as valuable as networking with someone who is well-connected and generous. Work the numbers, but keep pushing yourself toward meeting higher and higher quality people.

6). Eagles don't flock. Going to most very large networking events will net you a great number of business cards and, maybe, even quite a few networking coffees. These will likely lead nowhere. The larger networking events may yield a valuable person or two, but it is serendipity if it happens. Instead, look to venues where you can meet a few people who are well-connected and helpful.

7). TANSTAAFL. (A nod to Robert Heinlein.) There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Nothing comes for free. People are not just going to help you because you're such a great guy or because of your winning smile. Be prepared to give as well as receive.

8). Don't trash your system. If someone has done a favor for you and asks for one in return, it is a very good idea to help them if you're at all able. Refusing to do so will get you a reputation as a taker, and people will stop helping you. If someone has put their reputation on the line for you, don't disappoint them. You, also, have to be willing to put something on the line for them. Refusing to return a favor is the quickest way for your network to freeze cold as ice.

9). Don't make connected people angry. You won't like them when they're angry. While they might not turn huge and green, you'll find that word WILL get around rapidly. The displeasure of a well-connected person can ruin your business, your reputation and your job search. Don't compromise your principles to please well-connected people, but don't do anything stupid, either, such as bad-mouth someone who is connected. It will not turn out well for you.

10). Follow through on your promises. There is one individual I know who promises the moon, but never delivers. He has had a very hard time finding a job because his reputation for not delivering follows him around. Who wants to hire a CEO who does not follow through? Or a mail clerk, for that matter? Follow through or don't make the promise.

Networking is still the only real way to find a decent job in this economy. Networking is a long-term strategy that pays a great ROI if consistently pursued in the right way. If your networking is not yielding the results you want, it is likely that you're not networking well. Make sure that you do those things that will yield the best results and optimize your valuable time.

Please join us for our management and executive structured networking event on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, and meet some Eagles! Use discount code: cobizmag. More information and registration here.

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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