10 Ways to Use Your Network for a Career Change
The most effective way to leverage your network for a career change is to pay attention to it and nurture it well in advance of going through any career transition process. That way, when the time comes to ask people for help with your career switch, you’ll already have positioned yourself to get more out of it than if you just appear out of the blue to take without giving.
1. Clean House
How current is your network? Having a regular weed out of your contacts list ensures that you only have connections that you’ve contacted recently and will contact again in the future.
2. Check in with Key People
Nourish your relationships with potentially important people in your network by giving them a call or sending them an email from time to time to see how they’re doing. Don’t forget to ask simple questions such as “how are you?” or “how are things?”
3. Be Specific
Once it comes to asking your network for help with your career change, be specific about what your intentions are. It’s frustrating, isn’t it, when a contact asks us for help but is vague about what they actually want from us. The more specific you can be in your requests, the more people will be both able and willing to respond positively and proactively to those requests.
4. Identify Targets
Try and define what types of contact you need. You will already have some in your current network and there will be others you need to go out and find.
5. Project Your Intentions
What’s the message you want to get out there? What channels and what platforms are you going to use to get that message out?
6. Use Social Media
Understand the power of social networking sites such a LinkedIn and Twitter. Such social media platforms make for useful recruitment databases, with employers and recruiters alike increasingly using them for sourcing and researching potential new talent. Don’t waste your time by joining every social network you come across and trying to maintain accounts on all of them. Just use the most appropriate ones for you.
You want to make sure you use your friends and connections as appropriately and efficiently as possible so do your research on them. Go through your contacts list and think about what you know about each name. Look them up on their website or their employers’ site. Check out their social media profiles. Researching them in this way will allow you to think creatively about how each individual can fit into your career change plan.
8. Give Back
People who are willing to help others are more likely to get the kind of help they need. Point people that you meet towards people who you know that might be useful to them. Give recommendations and references to those in your network if you’re expecting the same from them.
9. Don’t Forget Your Supporters’ Club
It’s very easy to forget the people close to you who are right under your nose. Networking is not only about meeting new contacts and building new relationships but also about nurturing the relationships you already have within your current network. Ask yourself how much you really know about each of your existing contacts. If it’s not much, get to know these connections by regularly choosing one to call up and ask what they’re up to.
10. Keep it Updated
Once you’ve changed careers, don’t forget to inform your network of what you’ve done and to thank your contacts for their help. If you keep them in the loop in this way instead of dropping them as soon as you no longer need their help with this particular transition, they’ll be more likely to help you again in the future.
By Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition (www.positionignition.com) and the Career Ignition Club (www.careerignitionclub.com), the UK’s leading career change and career development company and platform. He is also the author of 125 LinkedIn Job Search Tips (http://www.positionignition.com/100-linkedin-job-search-tips). Follow him @PosIgnition for more help with your career challenges.