Here's how to apply “It's not what you know, it's who you know” to your job search.

We have all heard the saying, “It's not what you know, it's who you know.” While it's vital that you understand your industry and demonstrate professional experience, it never hurts to know the right people. In today's competitive job environment, it is important to connect and build relationships with those individuals who can assist you in your career through job networking, especially in the hidden job market.

Networking Unlocks Opportunity

How did you get your last job? Did you read the classifieds in the newspaper? Did you peruse an online job board? Did a friend of a friend tell you about a job opportunity that they heard about from a neighbor? Statistics show that the majority of successful job searches are completed when the employee discovers a job through a networking contact. In fact, studies have found you're 10 times more likely to land a job when you know someone at the company.

Here's a quick networking example for you. I recently worked with a client named Sarah* who was seeking a career in education. She successfully landed a job at a university campus months before the campus ever opened, even though the university had not advertised about the new location or the job opening at the time.

During the winter months, most people in the area were wondering what building was being constructed on the south end of town. Fortunately, Sarah had an uncle who worked in the construction industry. When he told her the newest building he was constructing was for a new university, Sarah's ears instantly perked up. As soon as he told her the name of the college, she was on the Internet, seeking additional information and finding out how to apply for a teaching position. Within a few days of receiving this insider information, Sarah sent a resume to the corporate headquarters. After some follow-up correspondence and an interview, she was hired. With the help of your personal network and a little persistence, Sarah was able to uncover a hidden job market and land what she considers to be her dream job.

Plan It, Be Purposeful, Be Productive

One of the keys to networking for a job is to plan it, be purposeful, and be productive. Take the time to meet new people, go to free networking events, attend conferences, ask questions, and put yourself out there, even if the thought of this makes you uncomfortable at first. If you're unsure where to start, take a look at 10times and Meetup to find relevant networking opportunities.

In addition, keep the focus of your job networking on the other party involved. Rather than thinking about yourself and fulfilling your needs, you must constantly remind yourself that networking is a two-way street. Remember, being a good networker means thinking, “How can I help this person?” It will all come back around to you, and you never know when your recently-made contact may develop into a business opportunity or career prospect in a hidden job market.

*Names have been changed to protect the client's anonymity.

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