We know that the best way to get a job is through your network. Networking is critical to success as Greg McKeown quotes a great networker named Rich Stromback in this HBR blog, "99% of Networking Is a Waste of Time": "Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people."
People tend to do business with people they know and like. Similarly, people tend to hire people they know or those that come highly recommended and like. Your network is even more important than your competence since good network creates more opportunities for you. And there is a tacit assumption that you are being recommended because you are competent; therefore, you don't need to be the best at what you do; you just need to have the best network pulling for you to get the job.
Often when I want to get some house work done such as landscaping, painting, replacing windows or a garage door, I start by putting an advertisement on Craigslist. I receive number of replies with estimates, but at the end I always tend to hire someone that is referred by a relative, friend, neighbor, acquaintance or people that are part of my social media network. Similarly, when you are looking for a job, there are plenty of candidates who are going to respond to an advertisement. Being inundated with so many resumes, they start looking similar; hence, the hiring manager often chooses a candidate that is referred by someone within the company or outside the company.
Though it is better to have a network than none, but all your network resources are not the same; some are more powerful than others. I have identified seven levels of network resources that you can leverage to get you the job with 7 being the highest level. I have also included level 0, meaning that these are the people that you want to reach out to who may help you get a job. Networking not only gets you a good job faster, but you also tend to get a higher salary. The one thing to also remember that many of us may not have high levels of network resources. To make up for this deficit, you will need a lot at lower levels to be successful, and they can be very effective. Numbers do matter when it comes to networking.
Seven Levels of Network Resources
Power: They can get you the job right away since they have the power to hire you right away.
Position: They are in high-level executive positions or own the company.
Approach: You don't even need a resume to get a job with this level of network resources since they know you well and will create a position for you.
Chances: Slam dunk; this is your job if you want it.
Power: They have excellent relationships with executives or owners of companies who have the power to hire you.
Position: They could be anyone but mostly they are also executives or owners of companies
Approach: You will get an opportunity to make your pitch in front of a decision maker. Note, your network resource will not recommend you unless she knows that you can add value to someone in his network. Because of her relationship, you have to get her to coach you so you succeed. Also, you don't want to take the interview process lightly since your network's judgement is at stake.
Chances: Slam dunk to excellent.
Power: They are in senior management position who are looking to hire you to work in their department.
Position: Senior management in a company that is looking to hire or perhaps even create a position for a right candidate.
Approach: You will need a resume so others in the company can interview you to make sure that you are qualified. You have to be well prepared to avoid raising any doubts. You want your network resource to coach you so you make a good impression so that your interview goes well.
Chances: Excellent; this is your job to lose.
Power: They are in senior management position who have influence to get you hired by their company, but not in their department. They may also be able to get you a job at other companies since they tend to have excellent high-level contacts at other companies.
Position: Senior Management
Approach: Your network will work hard behind the scene to get you the job since he is well connected inside and outside the company. Note, this network resource is likely to go to bat for you if you have worked for him or is very familiar with your body of work.
Chances: Excellent but you have to make sure there are no surprises. This one is not slam dunk since it depends on how well you are coached by your network resource.
Power: They are people working at a company who can get your resume to the right person within a company and guide you through the process and may have some influence.
Position: Employee who has been working for few years who has highly regarded and has good contacts.
Approach: You want to make sure you pre-qualify the people before they submit your resume. You have to teach them how to sell you and get them first to talk to the person. You don't want them to submit your resume blindly. You only want to do it if they have some relationship.
Chances: Good. Your success depends on how much information you can extract from your network resource.
Power: They are well connected who have excellent contacts who can help you get a job. You are looking to leverage one or two degrees of separation
Position: Relative, friend, or acquaintances.
Approach: You have to qualify the opportunity with your network resources, so you are not going on a wild goose chase. You want to provide your network resources three things you can do, but keep it very simple so they can pre-qualify the opportunity for you. Also, teach them how to sell you to others in what value you can provide.
Chances: Good to Fair; You have to pre-qualify this opportunity, so you don't waste time. No matter what happens, you want to thank your network resource. I would show the appreciation by giving a $10 Starbucks card.
Power: These are your contacts on social media who may know others who can help you connect with someone in their network who may be able to help you get a job. Again, you are leveraging degrees of separation.
Position: Anyone that is part of your social network. They are mostly weak ties.
Approach: You have to make sure you provide three qualifying points so your social media network can pre-qualify the job for you.
Chances: Fair; thank your network resource for their help and keep them abreast of what is going on with your search.
Power: These are people you are trying to network using social media network who may guide you in getting the job based on your body of work.
Position: Anyone who is not a strong tie or a weak tie, but someone you want connect with, so they become a potential network resource.
Approach: You don't want to approach them looking for a job. It helps if you have a platform such as your website, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, etc. so you can promote them.
Chances: None. Turning these social media contacts into a network resources take time since you have to get them into your social network (level 1) first.
Before you start your job search, first write down all the names that are part of your network. Next, identify the levels they are at and the approach you have to take to increase your chances of getting the job. You probably want to spend 90% of your time with networking and perhaps only 10%, if any, applying to advertised positions on companies websites.