When I was a kid, the Beatles were the groovy band, and job seekers can learn a lot from this timeless classic:
Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone
Without help from an engaged network, coupled with your own enthusiasm and ambition, your career strategy will flounder. Here are some tips for how to reach out to different segments of your network to tap into their experience, acquaintances, and ideas.
Long-time contacts: Never miss out on the opportunity to network with past employees, peers or bosses, even after you’ve been terminated from a position. You never know if they might be in an influential position to help you with your next challenge.
New contacts and strangers: Try to come out of your shell and be bold in asking someone to help, even if you don’t know them very well. You never know – the tables might be turned in a few months and they might be soliciting your help! We are in a networked society today, where it is almost a given to help others through career transition. So also be alert to opportunities to help others. Give, give, give, because you will get in return.
Your whole network: While there are some effective ways to “crowdsource” your job search, generally you want to avoid any impersonal mass messages to all your contacts. There was a time when this was very common (remember fax ads?) but today this tactic usually fails to engage the recipient to want to help you. Instead, preface your request by reminding the person how you know each other. Mention an experience you shared, e.g., “Do you remember that office party at the rooftop restaurant?” or “I’m still so proud of the work we did on that XVY company proposal.”
Make it easy for someone to help you
When requesting help from your network, be very specific in what you are seeking, so others can clearly understand your goals and direction. Even if they don’t know the answer, if you’ve been precise they’re more likely to refer you to someone who does have the expertise you seek.
There is no need to struggle alone in your career transition. Between past associates, new contacts, and the collective wisdom of your accumulated network, you have a rich source of information and resources at your fingertips.