Beth Grossman, Angott Search Group - Special Correspondent
1) Simplest Advice is: No one has ever made contacts by doing nothing! Start now and make a commitment for at least 1 hour a day. Increase the time and activities as your confidence grows. Start with your immediate centers of influence: people you know well and who would be willing to provide you advice, assistance, referrals, etc. Friends, family, co-workers, bosses, former co-workers, etc.
2) Brainstorm Contacts: potential contacts, people with whom you did business, former clients, and alumni.
3) Overcome Call Reluctance: It's real and very common. There are specific techniques to overcome it. Read up on it.
4) Go to the Library: Go to the bookstore and online. READ and talk to people. Evaluate your career path and what you really want to do. Do you need to re-invent yourself? If so, take some profile tests or see a career coach and discover what you want to do next. Don't just leap into another job if you weren't happy in the last one or if your career path is at a dead end.
5) Research: Learn how to use Google to search for information online. Research the companies and industries that you want to be in.
6) Virtual Networking: Use networking sites, but don't expect them to yield results just by being online. Use them as one tool in your toolbox. Spend time online, but not all your time online. Check out LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You don't need to be a computer whiz to network; start with LinkedIn.com - it's very easy to navigate.
Twitter can be used to "follow" people in industries or companies where you'd like to work or in which you're interested. Remember that you are business networking. There is a difference between social and business networking – never forget! Make a strong effort to remember names and faces.
Always be very polite and professional – your Facebook profile will be reviewed by your business contacts so don't get "too comfortable".
7) Good Old Fashion Networking: Plan to get to an event (interview, lunch meeting, networking event-job, association meeting, interview, etc- at least 2 times a week minimum). Take a class, join a networking group, and go to events you read about-go where you have likelihood of interacting with people. Ask for contacts. Don't assume people know what you do or that you are seeking a new job. People LOVE to give advice and talk about their own lives. Ask them about themselves. You don't need to actually ask for a job-look to make connections and ask questions. Think about what you can offer others, your contacts, your insight and knowledge.
8) Read some more.
9) References: Enlist someone else as your spokesperson, someone who can brag about you so you won't have to. These people will also serve as references when you get to the hiring stage.
10) Motivation: "No" means you are getting closer to yes. Overcome that sinking feeling you get when you hear "no." Even if you are uncomfortable, do it!
11) Goal Setting: Set realistic expectations. Set small goals that are attainable. Consider using a journal to track progress to goals. Keep a good record of each position that you have applied for, the research on the company, and the contact person. You want to be knowledgeable when they call you.