Identifying your network begins with a simple exercise – writing down people you currently have connection. To organize your thoughts consider placing each person into a category, which is how I got mine underway. I focused individuals who could help me in my search due to their current position held, industry, etc. I used this list to begin my networking.
One caveat: There is also an informal network that comes from telling other people what new role you are seeking. I got several good connections from friends of my wife, because I told them about my situation.
Creating your initial list:
- School (High School, College and Graduate School) – former students & teaching staff
- Former employers
- Service providers to your companies (bankers, lawyers, etc.)
- Colleagues from competing companies (hey, they are not competitors anymore!)
- Social Groups
o School associations
o Sports associations
o Volunteer Groups
Caveat #2: Don’t try to edit it too much, just fill in as many names as possible. Once you get it completed, then you can sort out how to prioritize each person.
Strongest Connection – People with a Vested Interest in You
After meeting over 700 people between networking, chairing executive networking group and my day-to-day work, I have noticed a key observation in people landing jobs. They often go to work for or are recommended by former bosses, colleagues, friends or close associates at service firms (law firms, accounting firms, etc.) – all people who had a vested interest in the person.
People who know your work style, results delivered, leadership abilities and personality, can make an easier decision to hire or refer you because there is less risk.
This is how I landed my job at RBC Dain Rauscher – my boss, Lisa Ferris, knew my background and style from our prior company. I still had to go through 10 interviews and a psychological screening, but I the job came because Lisa knew me.
As you build a list of your network contacts put those who have a vested interest in you at the top.
Before you reach out to those with vested interests, make sure you have a clear vision of what you want. No matter how well someone knows you, respecting their time is still required.
LinkedIn – Find people with a vested interest
Besides talking with former colleagues, my favorite method of finding people is LinkedIn. I cannot tell you how many people from 10+ years ago who I’ve found on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has a number of great tools to help you find former colleagues from work, school, etc. – all the type of people who might have a vested interest in you.
Good luck today.