One of the challenges many people face in their job search networking is helping other people understand the objective and how they can help. One of the most effective ways to help them do that… is to paint some mental pictures!
Generally, when someone begins discussing their job search, a networking contact automatically assumes they’re looking for job openings and leads. While that is the ideal, the fact is that people aren’t walking job boards! They usually don’t even know what kinds of positions might be open at their own companies. Without any further prompting, the conversation usually stalls there and often becomes awkward.
The objective with every networking contact, should not be primarily focused on specific openings, but rather on additional contacts that they can recommend. Once they understand that you’re looking for a job, they will certainly let you know of leads they know of without you even asking. So don’t ask!
Instead, focus on helping them grasp your interest in more contacts. Describe the networking process in terms that help them understand how they can help you!
You could say something like…
While I’m in my job search, my focus is following a trail of bread crumbs from one person to another and to another until I land on one that might know of the right opportunity for me. It would be very helpful to me if you could refer a couple of other people that would be worthwhile to talk to. Those additional breadcrumbs help keep me moving forward!
Or, something like…
My job during my search is to talk to as many people as I can, adding links to the chain of my connections. The more links I have, adding new people along the way, will eventually lead me to someone that might know of an opportunity for me. I’d be grateful for any additional links you think might be good connections for me to keep adding to the chain!
Through mental illustrations, people ‘get it’ faster, and your networking efforts become far more effective. Don’t just tell them you are looking for referrals, however, paint them a picture to help them understand why!