Networking is like the ripples in a pond
Close your eyes and imagine that you are dropping a stone into a pool of water. After the stone hits the surface, circular waves begin to radiate from the spot where the stone entered the water.
Hold that image as you think about networking as you seek a new job. As you begin the process – in the middle (where the stone was dropped), you work your way outward continuously covering more and more of the pond’s surface.
Where do you drop your stone? Where do you begin your job search networking? The simplest approach is to start with people you know – former co-workers, vendors, family, friends, etc. People with whom you feel most comfortable. This is especially important if you are new to networking, or if you feel shy or self-conscious. As one recruiter put it, “It's easier to network with people you know.”
As you begin with that group of known associates, you naturally will begin to include more and more people – most of whom you either don’t know at all, or are only casually acquainted. And that’s OK. Starting with people you know will allow you to gain confidence and to become more comfortable with the entire networking process.
Before you know it, you’ll be in contact with people you never knew existed only a few short weeks ago.
The good news is that – because of the Covid – most professional societies and business groups have converted to networking through virtual means. The bad news is that most professional societies and business groups have converted to networking through virtual means.
On the one hand, virtual networking permits you to attend more events and meet more people without investing in travel time and without the expenses associated with attending networking events. On the other hand, there is no real substitute for one-on-one personal contact. Virtual networking may be the next best thing, but if you have trouble striking up conversations with relative strangers, you may struggle with virtual networking.
The bottom line is that the more you network (live or online) the more ripples you’ll make on that pond, and the wider those ripples will extend.