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Do you hate the idea of networking? Many people do. But there’s no getting around the fact that networking is important to any job search. The good news is that networking doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Make it easier and more effective with these job search networking tips.

1 – Realize Your Network Is Bigger Than You Think

Most people think of their professional career network as those people who they’ve worked with in their career. On the surface, that makes sense. However, in reality, that’s much too small a scale to be helpful for your long-term success.

The truth is that people NOT in your normal work circle know countless people you don’t know with new connections you can’t have without them. I’ve personally known people to get jobs through family connections, social connections, people they met at their child’s elementary school PTA, and even through their barista.

Think of your network as everyone you know. Yes, it’s your past and present colleagues and bosses.  AND, it’s your family, friends, club or church members, your kid’s teachers or coaches, and acquaintance-level people you see regularly.

2 – Let Everyone Know You’re Looking for a Job

Not only does everyone need to know you’re looking for a job, they need to know a little about what you’re looking for. This is pretty easy to do through email or social media messages. Ask them for advice, to let you know if they hear of a job opening for X, or to pass along your resume for you. Attach your resume to the message.

If you haven’t contacted them in a while, that’s OK. See if you can send them something you think they’d be interested in (a link to an article or blog, for instance), or something that made you think of them. Then make sure you keep your network fresh from now on—see this post on 4 Easy Networking Tips.

For people that you speak to, it’s a little trickier, but doable. Ask them to email or text you if they hear of a job opening for whatever it is that you do. If they ask, have an elevator pitch ready to go that briefly summarizes what you do.

3 – Expand Your Circle

Keep yourself busy and expand your network in multiple ways.

First, make sure you’re on LinkedIn with a great profile and join groups that are relevant to your industry. See what’s going on and participate in discussions or comment on articles. If you’ve posted a useful or thoughtful comment, people will check out your profile. You can easily expand your connections through LinkedIn. It’s what it’s for.

Next, make sure you reach out to recruiters in your space. If they have a position they think you’re a good fit for, they’ll contact you. Check out my Amazon book on Working with Recruiters.

Finally, get out of your house and interact with people face to face. Volunteer opportunities can be good for your mental health as well as good places to make new connections with people you’d never otherwise meet. See if there are networking events near you to attend. These can be great places to meet new people and practice delivering your elevator pitch.

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how to build your networkFor much more information, check out Networking Effectively: How to Build Your Network for Career Success, available on Amazon.