Do I Have to Network?

There are people that just are not comfortable with the idea of networking. Maybe they are shy, insecure or just don’t like meeting new people. I get that. I’m not one for glad handing myself. But at the end of the day, networking is how people find jobs.

Here’s a true story. When I was about to graduate college I wrote letters to the major banks in my hometown looking for a job. I was extremely fortunate that my letter hit HR right when one bank was starting a new department and was looking for new college graduates with my skill set. It was a fluke, but it got my career started.

That job ended three years later when that bank was sold and my department was eliminated – my first RIF. Since then I’ve been RIFed (or whatever you choose to call it) five more times. I’ve been on the wrong side of mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, restructurings, etc. During the intervening periods between jobs I’ve been out of work for periods ranging from two weeks to 13 months. Once I ran my own consulting company for about two years.

I’ve also quit two jobs – once when I got a call from a head hunter with an opportunity too good to pass up and once to take the job I have now. So that means that I’ve been hired nine times. For eight of those nine (excluding the fluke at the bank) I have networked to find the job. I met someone who knew someone who referred me to someone else who was hiring. I was never hired by a friend or a relative. Every hiring process was competitive and all of the jobs were advertised. But for all of them, I learned of the job (and often they learned of me) through networking.

During that same period of time I’ve also applied for lots of jobs that I’ve seen advertised. I’ve had lots of first interviews and I’ve been a finalist probably a dozen times, but I have never been hired for a job that I simply applied for. Maybe that says something about my inability to close a deal, but I’d rather not think that way.

I believe that things tend to work out the way they are supposed to. People find the jobs they need – and that need them. It takes patience, hard work, self-confidence and being honest with yourself about who you are and what you want to do. But using me as an experience as an example, if you don’t network, you don’t work.

Now, let’s get out there and knock on some doors.

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