NETWORKING: “I’d rather cruise Craigslist…

…than beg friends and friends-of-friends for referrals,” said one job seeker in a LinkedIn group.

If you’re begging for referrals, you’re not networking.

Here’s what networking is, and how you can use it proactively and positively:

Networking is…

– being of service

– helping a friend move

– having a conversation with friends

– talking with people in the waiting room

– talking with others standing in the same line

– talking with a fellow fashionista about cool shoes

– chatting to fellow parents at your child’s soccer game

– sending links to great websites or articles your friend will find helpful

– sending a thank you note

– congratulating someone on a job well done and the contribution he or she made

Networking is about building relationships so that your network is there when you need them. While in job search mode, you can do many of the activities above to reconnect and rebuild your network as well.

When it’s appropriate, make the ask. Do not make it general. “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” is not networking, it’s begging.

Instead, “Mark, I’m looking for a public relations position. One of the things I do best is get amazing local media coverage through staged events. They’re authentic and generate a lot of buzz. In fact, one event I did recently got me coverage on WXYZ radio, Channel 4, and The Business Journal. Plus, we used a social media element that helped with attendance. Three companies I’d love to get to know more about are….”

See how specific this is? You can do it too!

Want more tips? Check out: If you have more ideas, please share them!

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