Many job seekers tremble when they hear the "N" word. For these people, mingling with strangers at a trade show or cold calling a "friend of a friend" is one of their least favorite things to do in the job hunt.
But it doesn't have to be. People must think of networking as a mutual benefit, not an imposition.
As a job hunter, you must open and expand your own personal network of contacts. That means using your friends, family, former co-workers and any other colleagues to spread the word that you're available and to keep their ears open for potential job leads. Remember, it only takes one person to give you the lead you need.
Your e-mail account is a very powerful tool for opening your network. Use it wisely and your job search will end that much faster. Consider this scenario: You put together a list of twenty people you know and their e-mail addresses. You send them a quick e-mail (with your résumé attached) announcing that you are looking for work. Then those twenty people pass on your information to at least one other person in their company. You've now doubled your list of potential job leads from twenty to forty in no time. This could be the most effective strategy you can use in your job search, and it cost you nothing!
Perhaps the best reason for using an approach like this is because companies love referrals from their employees. It saves them time and money. It saves time because the company can skip the long recruiting process and go straight to the interview. It saves money because the company does not have to advertise the job or pay an employment agency a fee.
There is also added incentive for your contact since s/he usually gets a referral fee from the employer (usually $500 to $2000 depending on the type of job). So if you really think about it, what employee wouldn't want to refer someone? It's a win-win situation for you, the employee and the employer.
But what if you don't know anyone at the company? The answer is simple. Call the company sales department and ask the representative for some advice. Say that you are considering applying for a job there, and ask if it's a good place to work at. Once you've established a dialogue with them, ask if they wouldn't mind referring you. If possible, have them refer you directly to the hiring manager.
Bottom line: Networking yields referrals which is the employers' preferred method of finding new employees.