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As you have learned in your job search, contacts and networking are perhaps the most effective tools to employ in finding and landing your next job.

Prior to 2001, jobs seemed to materialize in front of our eyes.  Recruiters called frequently with enticing opportunities.  Friends alerted you to openings at their companies.  Even your local grocery checkout clerk seemed to have great job leads.

Of course, that is now history.  Jobs, importantly, the job you “deserve” (as opposed to the job you “want’, but that is another blog subject), are elusive.  Your job search now has to become totally proactive.  You have to go after it.  And to do so, you have to turn to your existing contacts for leads as well as expanding your list of helpful contacts.

So, here are several ways to quickly expand your network of potential job leads and how to reach out to them:

1.   Create your “hit list” of companies within thirty miles (45 minute commute) of your home that you believe you can help based upon your interests, experience, talents, and the nature of the company’s business, the “match” between you and them. You should have about 15-20 of these companies about which you have learned everything including reading their website  “press” section to learn what they are currently doing (this section provides hints as to how you can insert yourself into current business initiatives), and reading the bios of senior executives (to get a sense of the culture and any “connections” you may have with them).

2.  Dive deeply into LinkedIn.  Go online and read tutorials regarding how to use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to likely suspects at companies on your “hit list” who could hook you into an opportunity at their company.  Enter these names and contact info into an online database (freecrm.com is basic but useful) and begin to track all of your activities with each person.

3.  For more potential contacts, look back in your career for people who “sold to you” in your prior positions.  These people tried to do business (and many probably did) with you and will remember you, and will very likely be willing to help you in your search.  Add them to your database.

4.  Reflect on all of your previous jobs and identify people via LinkedIn that you have forgotten who could help you.

5.  Check into professional group websites for the names of members who could help.  You may have to join the group to get access to this information, but joining appropriate groups is another way of staying abreast of developments in your industry.

6.   Review your local Business Times and other pertinent industry publications for the names of people with whom you should connect.  Include editors and authors of articles that may be willing to turn you on to opportunities in their universe.

7.  Go “all the way back” to your undergraduate (and graduate) schools and forage through appropriate parts of their websites.  Contact a few likely academicians who might love to connect you with their clients (as long as you do not represent a direct threat to those relationships).

8.  Contact recruiters you know.  In addition to ensuring they know you are in the market, ask them for the names of executives they know in your industry that you should contact.  This is in their self-interest as you will obviously inform the people you contacted that “Phil Smith suggested you as someone who I should know in my job search”.  Remember, these days, everyone is conscious of the job search challenge and are more than likely willing to help you if you approach them in a low-key fashion. Also, remember that you are someone of real value and expertise whom people will be pleased to meet.

9.  That “low-key fashion” is simply a three-part email (this is why I am writing, this is briefly who I am and how I am aligned with what your company is doing, and I would like to meet to learn more about how I might be able to contribute to your company’s success).   All they can do is say “no” or not respond.  If the latter, do not give up.

Do not send your resume.  Send your one-page bio with photo and contact info.  A resume says “help, I need a job”.  A bio says, “I am someone you may want to meet based on my terrific ‘story’”. If you do not have a bio, create one by referring to bios on websites you admire.  Have a few people who know you edit your bio.  Be sure it “transmits” properly to various windows and Mac computers.

10.  Call these folks one week later to follow-up.  Refer to your email (date and time) should you reach them live and briefly state what you wrote in the email.  Do not oversell yourself; keep it brief.  Endeavor to engage them to the point that you both agree to meet or speak at more length right then.

If you do not reach them, leave a brief voicemail referring to your email, re-state its contents and say you would love to hear from them.  Also, state that you will call again (provide a specific day and time- before 9AM) and call them at that time.

11. Using your database tracking, call each person about every ten days and consider re-sending your email after about a month. Keep your outreach easy-going and focused.  Remember, you are an expert in your field and it is to their benefit to meet you.  They may be smart enough to also be building their network!

12.  Continue to add prospective resources to your database and have confidence that you will make several very useful contacts in this fashion that will lead to getting the “job you deserve for career happiness and success.”

13.  Once you land that new job, take an hour or two every month to communicate with key members of our new network.  Keep them abreast of your activities and offer your help should they require it at some point.

Also, be sure to thank people who played an active role in your search.

Good luck!