Are you running around with a virtual J (for job seeker) on your forehead? Think about it: If youâ€™re looking for a new opportunity and stopping everyone you know to ask if theyâ€™ve heard of any open positions for you (because you â€œcan do anything!â€), you may be wearing this imaginary tattoo without realizing it. And the truth is, itâ€™s not doing you much good.
To your credit, career coaches have always alleged that networking is the best way to find a job. However, the difference between convincing someone to join your cause and hitting a dead end is all in your approach. For example, when you ask people if they know of opportunities and they donâ€™t, the conversation ends right there.
So, itâ€™s time to rethink your angle. Here are a few tips to help convince people to be your allies in the job-hunting processâ€”even if they donâ€™t have a position in mind for you right away.
1. Communicate With One Contact at a Time
If youâ€™re tempted to send an email to 300 of your closest friends to ask for their help, stop now! People who receive your note wonâ€™t believe youâ€™re really counting on themâ€”because theyâ€™ll assume someone else will respond to your plea.
2. Listen More Than You Talk at Networking Events
Instead of, â€œHello, nice to meet you, how can you help me find a job?,â€ make a point to have a real exchange with the people you meet. Ask a lot of questionsâ€”people love to talk to someone who pays attention and asks pointed follow-up questions. If you build relationships with your networking contacts and avoid vague requests, they will be much more likely to help you.
3. Connect With Long-Lost Contacts
What if you see someone youâ€™ve been meaning to call, but never got around to it? Donâ€™t run the other wayâ€”or worse, bombard her with requests to help you on your job hunt. Approach her with a big smile, acknowledge how long itâ€™s been, and invoke a little mutual nostalgia by commenting on your joint history.
4. Use Social Media to Get the Conversation StartedÂ
No, this isnâ€™t a free pass to spam your Facebook page with â€œCan you help me find a job?â€ updates. Instead, fill your social media streams with content that shows off what you know.
When people see that you know your stuff, theyâ€™re more likely to comply with an occasional request to assist with your job search. With the right preparation and mindset, you can tell your contacts that youâ€™re looking for a job without scaring them off. Keep in mind, most people want to assist; itâ€™s your job to make it easy for them to understand how they can help.
Read the entire post, including samples of what to say, inspired by our book, 100 Conversations for Career Success, on my guest post for The Daily Muse.