The Mysterious & Elusive Job Search Term, “Networking,” Explained

By Brent Bates.

New PictureNearly everyone has heard the word “networking” slung around as the best approach to finding your next career opportunity, but most people scratch their head thinking… “Where do I even begin?”

I think it’s safe to say that the “random networking” strategy that used to work quite well in the past is far less effective these days, globally, due to changes in the job market and world economy.  However, we are fortunate that technology and the growth of social media have opened up a much better way to network. Today, it is a lot easier to keep track of who we know, what they are up to, where they live & work, how to contact them, and even who they know!

We no longer need to use a volume-based approach to networking, which typically consisted of randomly emailing a résumé/CV to all of your friends, family, neighbors, former colleagues & bosses.  The numbers game doesn’t work anymore.  Instead, now, we are enabled to use a more focused & targeted approach to our professional networking.

We can research online to see:

  1. Exactly which companies we want to work for (I’ve heard that IBM is a good one…   😀 )
  2. If or where those targeted companies may have a current or future need for someone of our skill-set
  3. Who we know that works in that company, and hopefully, within that specific division or department
  4. Who we know that may know the potential hiring manager to ask for a warm introduction and/or exploratory career discussion
  5. Where these targeted people may gather online (ie. LinkedIn groups, Google+ Communities) or in-person (ie. trade shows, industry events, professional associations, local Meet Up groups) in order to contribute valuable insight into a discussion forum to have the opportunity to meet them

A large majority of managers actively use LinkedIn and have professional profiles set up.  Other popular social media platforms that may be more for personal purposes, but can also be used for business are Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and there may be others depending on the country you live in. Pinterest and Instagram may be popular, but are not well-suited for business conversations.

See this infographic for a snapshot of key social media statistics, courtesy of Leverage.  (Thanks for sharing, Leverage!)


As a recruiter, one of the biggest social media mistakes that I see people make is failing to complete their full profile. Describing, in detail, your work history and skill proficiency really helps recruiters to identify you as a possible match for their jobs.  The second biggest mistake is when people change their privacy settings so their profile is not searchable or restricted. Visible profiles allow recruiters to find and contact you about an opportunity that, very well, may be that golden chance to advance your career and improve your life! You don’t know what you’re missing out on until you listen. IBM certainly has some exciting and innovative new technology growth that is creating some incredible opportunities.

As mentioned in my last blog post, one of the most important aspects of networking is leveraging connections to gain inside information about related opportunities matching your background & qualifications. Of course, I should clarify that your connections may not be able to disclose confidential information, such as business strategies, certain client names, or project details, but they will be able to help you highlight your most desirable qualities that are relevant to that hiring manager’s needs and can possibly put in a good word for you once you’ve applied!

Keep in mind, many of the people you will be contacting are probably very busy with limited spare time, so be respectful not to waste their time and careful not to give off an impression that you are SPAMMING them.

For the most effective results, you may follow these guidelines with your networking communications:

  • Keep it as concise as possible: don’t ramble on, and be courteous of their time
  • Personalized messages only: not a templated mass message; be a real person to build rapport
  • Add value: identify and mention ways that you can help them too; show that you don’t just have self-interested motives
    • Examples: networking introductions, access to your network, sharing relevant ideas, industry expert opinions, trends, useful articles, feedback, etc.
  • Be proactive: Don’t wait until you need something from them to contact your connections, but build relationships first

Please leave a comment below describing which tip you liked most or have seen work well, personally.

*** IBM does not expressly endorse any of the companies mentioned or web-linked to within this blog post. ***


Brent_BatesBrent Bates is currently a Technical Sourcing Recruiter for IBM GBS (Global Business Services) in the USA. As a seasoned Recruiter and HR professional, his scope of hiring experience spans across a wide range of industries, professions, and career levels, globally. If you’d like to receive updates on Brent’s current hiring needs, please feel free to connect on social media by clicking on these links: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

To learn more about jobs at IBM, visit our IBM employment webpage.

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