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5 myths about networking

If you're an introvert (like I am), you probably shake in your boots when someone says, "To find a new job, you should be networking." Networking has this reputation of cold-calling people and demanding jobs, but it's not like that at all. Here are 5 myths about networking and how you (even the introverts!) can successfully do it.

1. Networking involves cold calling people you don't know. This is actually the anti-networking. Networking is all about making connections. You start with the people you do know and they can introduce you to people they know. The key is in the introduction and building your circle of people. Don't just start calling people up and asking for favors. It doesn't go over well.

2. You should only network with people who do what you do. There is some logic to that, if I'm an accountant, how can my school teacher neighbor help me get a job? Well, do you think school teachers live in their classroom closets? Of course not. They have family and friends, as does everyone else. Networking involves talking to everyone. You never know who they know.

3. Whew! I'm employed, I don't need to network any more. While it's nice to have a steady paycheck, you need to consider two things -- you could get laid off tomorrow and you want awesome people working with you. Keep building your relationships so that you can help other people succeed and so that, should you need to hire someone or be hired by someone, you'll have a network all built. Plus, many companies offer referral bonuses. Wouldn't it be great if you could pull in a couple thousand bucks each year by simply recommending people in your network for jobs at your company? They don't even have to do the same sort of work you do.

4. If I tell someone I want a job, they'll think less of me. Do you think less of people who are looking for a new job? No? Then why the fear that others will think this way about you? When you're at a party and chatting with someone for the first time, and the inevitable question of, "What do you do?" comes up, feel free to answer, "I'm a dog trainer, and I'm looking for a new position involving Hungarian Ridgebacks." Then let the conversation flow from there. People naturally want to help and most likely the response will be, "Oh, my brother-in-law used to train dogs up in New Jersey." Everybody knows something, but unless you make people aware, they can't help you. Don't dwell on it, but let it be know what you do and what you want to do.

5. I can use informational interviews to land a job. Please don't. If you ask to meet someone for an informational interview, it should not be done as a way to trick them into hiring you. Use it to ask for information about how they got to where they are, or what trends they see in the job, or what skills you need to gain in order to achieve your dream goal. People don't like liars, so don't lie about your intentions when you ask for a bit of someone's time. If they have a job you're a fit for, that's a bonus, but don't count on it. Instead, use the wisdom they give you to help you continue your job search.

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