Just how do you net­work when you don’t know any­one?

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - BUSINESS - By Kim­ber­ley Thomp­son Kim­berly Thomp­son is a cer­ti­fied coun­selor. Send ques­tions to [email protected]­reer­res­cue.com or Hous­ton Chron­i­cle, P.O. Box 4260, Hous­ton, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/ca­reer­res­cue. CA­REER RES­CUE

Q: I am not op­posed to net­work­ing dur­ing my job search; how­ever, my pre­vi­ous job was more fo­cused on pro­duc­tion work and had lim­ited in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple out­side my de­part­ment. I feel as though ask­ing friends for help is an im­po­si­tion. How are you sup­posed to net­work when you don’t even know any­one?

A: Net­work­ing lends it­self to all kinds of emo­tions, es­pe­cially dur­ing a job search. The self-im­posed pres­sure that job can­di­dates cre­ate is of­ten un­re­al­is­tic and makes net­work­ing more dif­fi­cult than needed.

The truth about net­work­ing is that any­one at any time can start right where they are in life. Bob Beau­dine, au­thor of says you likely al­ready know The Power of Who, the per­son who will give you a lead to your next job. While you may feel as though you are im­pos­ing on your friends, the truth is reach­ing out to those you know is a com­pli­ment. Brain­storm­ing with your friends says that you trust their judg­ment and value their thoughts. Keep in mind that anx­i­ety is of­ten the cul­prit when step­ping out of your com­fort zone.

The best way to start net­work­ing is by de­vel­op­ing a key list of those you have con­nec­tions with through var­i­ous av­enues. Friends and fam­ily are on the list, but there are mul­ti­ple con­nec­tions that can be over­looked. Here are some sug­ges­tions that have been help­ful to oth­ers:

Look at the last five-10 years and iden­tify your top cus­tomer and client in­ter­ac­tions. Cus­tomers can be strong av­enues for net­work­ing be­cause you have shared com­mon­al­i­ties.

Ven­dors and sup­pli­ers are good sources for ex­pand­ing your con­nec­tions. A good sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive is in tune with the in­dus­try needs and can eas­ily help you iden­tify com­pa­nies that are grow­ing. Most ven­dors will have a good rea­son to help you net­work, with hopes of a con­tin­ued busi­ness re­la­tion­ship in the fu­ture.

Alumni as­so­ci­a­tions en­cour­age ac­tive ca­reer net­works and most of­fer an alumni di­rec­tory.

School events where par­ents and teach­ers par­tic­i­pate.

Col­leagues from the past and present. Lastly, don’t “over­think” net­work­ing and al­low thoughts of im­po­si­tion to keep you from reach­ing out to peo­ple. If a friend was in a job search and asked you for help, would you feel as though they were im­pos­ing? Prob­a­bly not.

The best way to start net­work­ing is by de­vel­op­ing a key list of those you have con­nec­tions with through var­i­ous av­enues.

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