Last month I stressed the importance of networking in any job search. Nothing new there. The notion that we all need to step back from the computer on a regular basis and actually engage people is fundamental, and really the only time-proven way to find a job. But I do have a crucial caveat to the point. My own experience over the past few weeks has underscored the need to make this clarification. Otherwise, precious hours -- days or even weeks -- can be lost in the pursuit of our next position. Here is the clarification:
Networking needs to be relevant.
Umm...is that it? Yes, that's it. May sound elementary, but I'm amazed how many folks (including me) set out to network in places and with people from whom we receive little insight or encouragement in ways that truly help move our job search forward.
Networking opportunities must be practical. They must be targeted. They must be planned and researched. There must be method to the madness. Otherwise, that's all it is -- madness.
Yes, we have all heard how the more people we meet the more likely we are to find ourselves one step closer to landing our next role. At the same time, just meeting scores of contacts is not the end game. It's meeting contacts who can actually help us (as we, in turn, help them).
Don't sign up for every networking event. Pick and choose wisely. At the end of the day, the goal is not to have a drawer full of business cards, it's to land a job.
Smart networking is the key.