Often when I'm teaching my class on job search skills, or speaking at one of our networking meetings people ask something like:
We're told we should call people to network for our job search, or at the companies we are targeting. But who should we call?
Generally, people don't have a good idea of who they should be connecting to! The short answer is… anyone and everyone!
Here are some more specific points that may help…
Everybody knows somebody! The worst thing job seekers do at times, is too easily dismiss a name or contact they are given. They assume that since the referral doesn't fit the profile they think they are looking for, there's no value in connecting with them. Wrong! You never know who they know! The stay-at-home-mom, the great-grandmother, the accountant (when you're a construction worker), or vice-versa… may have a neighbor, a friend, a brother-in-law, a cousin, or a friend of their spouse who is a hiring manager in your field. Never assume that someone is not a valuable contact. Connect with them, and ask who else they know that would be worthwhile for you to contact. You may often be surprised!
Think of everyone you know, let them know you're looking for a new opportunity, and ask them who else they would recommend you talk to!
Engineers know Accountants! If you're an accountant, and the only referral you get at one of your target companies is an Engineer, that person is one step closer to the person you want to talk to. Never assume that someone that is not in your field or in the department of the kind of position you want to pursue, that they are not a great contact. The Engineer referral can give you more information about the company. They can give you advice on how to best pursue positions within the organization. And most importantly, they can refer you to someone that's possibly in the area you are pursuing, or tell you who else might be of help. Talk to anyone you can within your target companies, and you will gain invaluable information and direction.
Don't stop at one! Often, I hear someone receive a name of a contact at a company they are targeting, and they respond with something like… "Thanks, but I already know someone there."
There are a couple of companies in my area that have nearly nearly 100,000 employees, and yet some people assume that since they have a contact, they don't need any more. Talk to as many people as you can at companies you are pursuing! One contact is good, 25 is better! The more people within the organization that know you, the higher the likelihood that someone will refer you internally when an appropriate opportunity comes up. The more people you talk to, the more information can be gained, the more advice you can get, the more people you can return to when you hear of an appropriate position. Call, and meet, as many people as you can.
While at times it may feel unproductive to call a number of people that don't seem to be connected to your career objectives, the reality is that very often the best leads come from the least likely sources! Proactively connect with everyone you can to ultimately get to the job lead you need.