Networking Feels Fake

A woman seeks advice on how to find a new job, without networking.

Your Career Coach

Networking Seems Fake

Dear Michele,

Everyone says that the key to finding a new job is to network, but I hate networking. It seems so fake. All these people running around, handing out business cards, not even looking each other in the eyes. I really can’t stand it. Is there another, more authentic way to “network”?

— A Lover Not a Networker

Dear Lover,

My friend Liz Lynch has written a great new book on networking,
aptly called Smart Networking (McGraw Hill). Liz offers many, many useful, practical and helpful tips about how to do effective networking. And she suggests that you consider your network as all the people you know — those you’ve worked with, those you’ve played with, those you’ve socialized with, and those you are related to by blood or marriage.

Over 70 percent of jobs are filled by personal referral — and, unless you’re remarkably lucky, the hustler at the networking event is not going to be the guy to refer you to your next job. Your coworker will. Your cousin will. Your college roommate will. So network with those people. Call them up and tell them what you’re looking for. And, reciprocate — ask them what they’re looking for and want. Do favors for people. Steer them toward interesting articles that can be of benefit to their line of work, or to their favorite hobby. Give them a heads-up on a new Web site or Web application. Sure, you are going to meet new people who will also be helpful to you, but that’s a normal part of life. And it’s how you authentically grow your supportive network.

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