Build­ing a net that will work in your favour

Net­work­ing in­volves more than col­lect­ing busi­ness cards and can build op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond just putting your face to a name, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin dis­cov­ers.

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page -

MORE peo­ple are pur­su­ing net­work­ing as a form of find­ing a new job and learn­ing new skills to de­velop their ca­reers as well as build­ing their pro­fes­sional con­tact base, new re­search finds.

The ways in which pro­fes­sion­als net­work also is grow­ing, as tech­nol­ogy cre­ates new ways to so­cial net­work and chang­ing busi­ness de­mands en­cour­ages work­ers to look for a cut­ting edge.

On­line busi­ness ad­vi­sory Fly­ing Solo Mi­cro Busi­ness Com­mu­nity’s an­nual Un­der­stand­ing Mi­cro Busi­ness Sur­vey 2010-2011 finds Aus­tralian work­ers are at­tend­ing net­work­ing func­tions more of­ten now than three years ago.

Al­most two-thirds of work­ers, or 61 per cent, net­work at least ev­ery quar­ter, com­pared to 57 per cent in 2008. One-quar­ter of work­ers are net­work­ing once a month, up from 23 per cent in 2008, while at­tend­ing weekly and fort­nightly net­work events has in­creased from 6 per cent to 7 per cent of work­ers.

Net­work­ers are do­ing so to in­crease their skills and knowl­edge base (71 per cent), make con­tacts to sup­port the busi­ness (68 per cent), de­velop busi­ness leads (56 per cent) and stay con­nected with peo­ple in busi­ness in gen­eral or their in­dus­try (42 per cent).

There has been a de­crease in the pro­por­tion of work­ers want­ing in­for­mal, un­struc­tured net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, from 43 per cent in 2008 to 40 per cent in 2011, though it still is the most pre­ferred op­tion.

On­line fo­rums have recorded the big­gest in­crease in par­tic­i­pa­tion from 11 per cent three years ago to 15 per cent this year.

Us­ing on­line net­work­ing and fo­rums to find a new job also has ex­pe­ri­enced a dra­matic in­crease in the past three years, with 43 per cent of work­ers now do­ing so, com­pared to 27 per cent in 2008.

The vast ma­jor­ity, or 85 per cent, also rely on word of mouth for new em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ca­reer Con­sul­tancy di­rec­tor Cather­ine Cun­ning­ham says when the word net­work­ing is men­tioned, most peo­ple think of sip­ping cham­pagne at a busi­ness func­tion and ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards.

She says it is a valid form of net­work­ing but can have a low re­turn on the in­vest­ment be­cause it can take many meet­ings and a long time be­fore strong con­nec­tions are made.

Net­work meet­ing is a new way in which work­ers can ex­plore in­for­ma­tion with­out hav­ing an agenda of com­mit­ting to a ca­reer op­tion, ask­ing for a job, chang­ing in­dus­tries or drum­ming up new busi­ness.

Net­work­ers ar­range a face-to­face meet­ing with a po­ten­tial con­tact to ask for ad­vice. Ms Cun­ning­ham says it pro­vides an ef­fec­tive means of find­ing out about the cul­ture of an or­gan­i­sa­tion and can of­fer vi­tal in­for­ma­tion, which can pre­vent poor ca­reer choices.

‘‘Em­ploy­ees who use job search net­work­ing first meet up with an ac­quain­tance, ex­plain clearly their job search strat­egy and ask for fur­ther con­tacts who might give ben­e­fi­cial ad­vice,’’ she says.

‘‘The next stage is to phone this un­known con­tact to ask for a short meet­ing to, once again, ask their ad­vice on their job search strat­egy.

‘‘When it is done cor­rectly, each in­di­vid­ual meet­ing with a new con­tact ei­ther re­sults in a job of­fer or the re­fer­ral to an­other con­tact who ei­ther of­fers a job or refers an­other stranger.’’

Work­ers de­velop strong pre­sen­ta­tion skills as they at­tend meet­ings and their con­fi­dence can grow, which helps per­sonal de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘An added ad­van­tage of us­ing job search net­work­ing is that very few Aus­tralians are aware of it or of how to do it well,’’ she says.

‘‘Em­ploy­ees who have the courage to em­bark on this ac­tiv­ity are well and truly ahead of the pack.’’

An­other favoured form of net-

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