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10 tips

Network your way to a new job

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

Especially during tough economic times, networking is an important tool. The Wall Street Journal reported that 94 percent of successful job seekers cited networking as their primary job-search method. It's an effective way to tap into the "hidden job market" -- positions that are learned about only through word of mouth.

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1. Know where to look. The following sources can help you identify good networking contacts: your college's alumni association or career office; your extended family; professional associations and conferences; religious and community organizations; former bosses, professors, advisers, coaches and tutors; the local chamber of commerce; and your company newsletter.

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2. Appreciate their value. Your networking contacts can give you indispensable insights about what it's like to work in a certain field or for a certain employer. They also can let you know about job openings and give you tips on how to apply.

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3. Redefine networking in your mind. Many people cringe at the thought of dashing around a conference collecting business cards or essentially asking strangers for favors. Instead, view networking as a way of keeping in touch with people who know and care about you or who want to get to know you.

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4. Examine your daily routine. Be on the lookout for networking opportunities and seize them. Take the time to chat with co-workers or contact former professors, classmates and people you've met at professional meetings.

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5. Start dialing. One of the most overlooked networking opportunities is the simple act of picking up the phone. Don't view it as a waste of time to call a colleague or two and get caught up. It isn't.

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6. Change your attitude about e-mail. It's easy to view e-mail as a pernicious device that gobbles up too much of your precious time. But recognize it for what it is: an unobtrusive, easy way to network with colleagues.

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7. Plan ahead. Before attending a work-related or professional event, prepare a few questions or ideas that you'd like to discuss with someone who will be there. Once you've pulled off that conversation, relax and enjoy the rest of the event.

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8. Always make your boss look good. Recognize that your boss can, and probably will, play a major role in your future career growth. Be sure that your job performance, attitude and willingness to tackle challenging assignments reflects well on him or her.

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9. Cultivate positive relationships with co-workers. Your colleagues stand to become some of your best networking contacts as all of you move on in your careers. Be helpful and loyal to them.

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10. Go the extra mile for clients. If your clients know they can depend on you, they may contact you about job opportunities or put in a good word about you with your boss.

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-- Compiled by Laura T. Coffey. Sources: Monster.com (www.monster.com); TrueCareers (www.careercity.com)

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