A very simple way to expand your job search network is to use LinkedIn. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, get one fast!
The kind of resume I help people develop is LinkedIn-friendly. Your resume Profile turns into your LinkedIn Summary, your Core Capabilities turn into your Specialties, and your jobs easily fit into the LinkedIn space. Education comes after Experience in both places. I'll write more about an ideal LinkedIn profile, but back to the topic of networking now!
Once you have a good LinkedIn profile, it's time to connect with people. You want to connect with
* former colleagues
* current colleagues (if you're working)
* people at your house of worship
* other volunteers (if you volunteer)
* college classmates
* high school classmates
* your professional service providers (doctor, lawyer, accountant)
* your kid's friends' parents
Basically, you want as broad a network as possible. The idea is to have as many "First Degree Connections" as you can get for a couple of reasons.
1) More people will see your profile and updates, and have you in their mind. That makes it much easier for you when you contact them for help with your job search. You will be "top of mind" because they see you making changes to your profile, adding connections, making updates.
2) You have a much larger extended network. All those first degree connections have their own networks, and their networks have their own networks. You have access to these second and third degree connections. So the more first degree connections you have, the wider the reach you have for introductions to people with a 2nd or 3rd degree connection. Chances are that there is at least one person one or two degrees away from you who works at a company you have targeted.
You can find people to add to your connections by following these simple steps.
** To use your e-mail address to find people, go to your main page and click on "Contacts" and "Import Contacts."
** It will prompt you to enter a password if you need it, and then you hit enter and LinkedIn comes up with a huge list of people.
** Those who are on LinkedIn will have a little blue icon with "in" on it, indicating that they are on LinkedIn.
** The default is to check every box, so click on "select all" to UNselect all.
** You will then sort through to see who you want to add to your network. Click on the box next to those you choose.
** The box on the right will list all those to whom you want to send invitations. Click on "send" and the invites will be on their way.
Once you have connections, you can ask for recommendations. To have a complete profile, LinkedIn wants you have at least 3 recommendations. And recommendations are used more and more for "soft reference checks."
You can ask for recommendations on the site itself from people in your network. That's a topic for another day, and a VERY important one.
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