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Use your Personal Network

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Too many people think that there are only two ways to find a job in sales – through a recruitment agency or by applying for a job you see advertised.

Of course, these are perfectly fine ways to boost your career, but it is naive to think that this is where your career opportunities end.

Why not open your mind to the possibilities of using your own personal network to gain clients and contracts? You will already have a sophisticated personal network of contacts built up throughout your job history – whether you know it or not!

Don’t Be Embarrassed – And Don’t Be Pushy!

Most people are put off by the idea of using their personal network of contacts (that includes friends and family – although probably best not to call them ‘contacts’ to their faces!! It’s just a technical term…) because they think they will be somehow ‘using’ their friends, or will get a reputation for taking advantage of people’s good nature.

The truth is that is possible if you do it wrong. Nobody wants to feel as though their friends are taking advantage of them, or that the only reason they are friends is because of what they can do for them. But think of the very fine line between that and helping out the people closest to you?

People Like To Help

Why is it that Derren Brown says the most effective way to start a sentence is to say ‘I wonder if you can help me?’ The fact is people like to help and feel as though they are useful. Ask yourself if you like to try and help your friends and family if they ask for your assistance? If the answer is no, then perhaps you are not in the best position to be asking for favours, but if the answer is yes, and let’s hope it is, then why not put the word out that you are looking for a new job?

The key to using your personal network for career networking is to understand both what you have to offer as an employee and what you can offer in return for a favour. It’s not about offering a directly comparable favour – you get me an interview with your company and I’ll cut your hedge, or whatever – it’s more like you need to be responsive to ideas in how you can help your friends, too.

Who Is Your Personal Network?

Think about who you know and where they work. Who has their own company or who works in recruitment and can give you a personal recommendation? What family members might you be able to offer something useful to? Ask around to see if your network support group of friends and family know if their company is recruiting, or if their clients are recruiting. There is also someone to ask without it seeming desperate.

If you do find that you gain an interview or introduction to a potential employer through a friend, make sure you thank them for it. A bottle of wine or bunch of flowers goes a long way. Although they will probably say ‘you shouldn’t have!’ they will be pleased you did.

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