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Networking and Job Search
By Megan Brooks
Networking is intrinsic to job search. A large number of job openings get occupied thanks to social contacts. This may be in the form of a simple referral, forwarding of the job application itself, or even direct interview and appointment to a given post, usually through a friend or acquaintance.

Given the potential of networking in your job search, it makes sense to pay a certain amount of attention to the process. If in the past, it was considered rude to openly enlist the help of your friends, acquaintances or relatives in getting a job, it is no longer so. In fact, there are several networking sites dedicated to helping people network and find job openings of their choice.

For many people, networking is not an option; it is a serious activity. Networking especially means business for all those who have held steady jobs and suddenly had to leave their comfort zone due to various reasons - due to factors out of their control, such as downsizing, cost cutting or a faltering economy. So, how can you initiate networking?

Maintaining Contact
Often, keeping in touch is all you may need to maintain effective contacts with people. A phone call, an email, or a festive card - all of these constitute social networking. A timely email is often all that is needed to maintain acquaintance even during times when people are increasingly remaining busy and unable to meet each other in person. If you are close to someone, you could also consider picking up the phone and calling up. Even if this may not work at all times or with everyone, it helps to communicate your wish of getting back in touch.

Asking for a Referral
If you have been fairly regular in keeping in touch, there is absolutely nothing amiss with asking for a job referral. You can simply let your contact know that you are looking at a change in your workplace, in case they are aware of any openings that would suit your career profile. You can think of this approach even when you are thinking of changing your industry or line of work altogether. Conduct an individual brainstorming session with different contacts, depending on your relationship and relative closeness with each. Elicit their opinions on your skill set or abilities to draw parallels; this may help you determine, to a certain extent, which industry or professional area you would like to move into. Your contacts may even be able to help you secure a position in the new profession of your choice.

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