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One of the most important factors you probably aren’t considering in your job hunt is how important it is to influence what people you do not know think of you. What? You need to worry about people you don’t know? Absolutely—it’s probably the most overlooked job-search step you aren’t doing anything about.

Of course, there is a catch: your goal is to increase the number of people who know, like and trust you. You should identify people who do not know you and make a concerted effort to change that.

Who should be your first targets? People who work for companies where you would like to work. Identify people who have the chance to influence hiring decisions at those organizations. First, list five to 10 companies where you don’t seem to have many contacts, and make it your mission to create lists of five to 10 people in each organization who are accessible enough to reach.

Luckily, social media tools make it very easy to hone in on exactly the right contacts.

Be clear about why you want to meet the person in question. Think about compelling reasons he or she should want to know you. How can you be a resource for him or her?

While LinkedIn can provide a plethora of easy contacts, other social networks are especially useful when you don’t have a lot of great intermediaries to connect you with people you want to know. On LinkedIn, be sure to check out the Groups feature to connect with new people in your field of interest. Using Twitter, you can find people, follow them, and engage with them directly without any pressure.

Once you find new people you’d like to meet, follow them and make a point to keep a close eye on their updates. On Twitter, retweet (forward information to your followers) from people you want to know better. If they write blogs or are active on different social media tools, be sure to find and connect there as well.

That said, be sure you don’t cross the line between interested networking contact and stalker. Be considerate and interested; do not tweet your contacts every hour, obsessively comment on their blog posts, or respond to their every Facebook post the minute they appear on the screen.

Make a point to influence and connect with people who don’t know you—yet—and you may find it is the most important thing you do to land a job.

Read the entire post at U.S. News & World Report

image via aafromaa, artist is Bruce Dupree

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