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During your job search it’s important to get out there and meet people, as well as to make and accept introductions — networking is critical to the job search. This is probably old news to you; however, have you thought about how you can really amplify your efforts and increase your networking exposure? The answer lies in the effective use of a viral networking team.

Why Have a Viral Networking Team

When you first embark on a new job search, you probably find yourself emailing your close contacts (or connecting with them on social media sites) to let them know that you are in the job search, and to please keep you in mind if they hear of any potential opportunities. Sound familiar?

Then, eventually you’ll probably email the same people again with your updated contact information once you’ve landed at your next job. But, who knows how long this process will take? Weeks? Months? It is very possible that your contacts may forget you are looking depending on how big the gap is between these two messages.

To keep your job search “top of mind” with your business contacts, why not ask friends and acquaintances to “opt-in” to weekly email messages (or status updates, tweets, etc.) that concisely state your latest applications, recent acquaintances, and a listing of companies where you want to get your foot in the door?

Make it easy for people to respond by just asking them to reply with a “yes.” Most individuals, especially those you already know, will want to help you. If you make it easy, and particularly if you are the type of person that will return the networking favor when others need it someday, starting a successful viral networking team can be a breeze.

How to Start Your Team

Reach out to your friends, family, neighbors, former co-workers and community acquaintances with an initial call-out message explaining your intentions and how people may help. Here’s a quick example:

Hello!

I’m writing you, as one of my personal contacts, to ask if you would be willing to be on my job search networking team. With your permission, I’d like to send you a very brief once-a-week email update noting the jobs/companies to which I’ve applied. That way, if you happen to know anyone at any of these companies, you might be able to help me get a foot in the door, or refer my application to the right person.

I’d really appreciate your help! If you’re interested in accepting these updates, simply email me back…and you may opt out at anytime! Thanks!

Updating Your Team

Once you start to receive positive reply messages, keep track of your opted-in networking team contacts so that you may easily message them each week. When you are ready to send your first update, here are some tips for consideration:

  • Subject – If using email for your updates, always have the same subject line. Perhaps something like “networking team weekly update” or “attention job search team,” etc. Be consistent with status updates on social media sites, as well (i.e. same preview header on LinkedIn or same hash tag on Twitter).
  • BCC – Always blind carbon copy the recipients of your update messages — make sure your teammates know that is your plan in advance – they will be more likely to agree to receive your updates in the first place.
  • Forwarding – Make sure your teammates understand that it is okay for them to forward your information (resume included) to their own contacts — they don’t need to ask you each time…you give your universal blessing!
  • Timely – Try to keep to a schedule – send updates on the same day and time each week…people will start to expect them and take more notice.
  • Resume – Always either attach a copy of your resume or provide a link to it from your messages — that way people will have it readily available to forward when they hear about job openings from others.
  • Brevity – Be concise with your update messages, and use formatting (i.e. bullet points, bolding important items, etc.) to make it easy for others to scan for the names of familiar companies and/or people. Here’s an example of an update message:

Hello Networking Team!

Once again thank you for your continued support. I’m really appreciative of the job leads this team has generated! Here’s this week’s update:

Coming Up Soon:

○          I have an in-person interview for the Recruiting Manager position this Thursday, 10/17 with Phil Suarez at Global, Inc.

○          I have an informational interview/coffee talk scheduled with Mary McDowell of Career Resources this Friday.

My Applications in the Past Week:

Do you know someone at these firms? Could you help me get my foot in the door?

○          Applied for HR Specialist at ACME, Inc. on 10/11

○          Applied for HR Field Rep. at Amazing HR on 10/15

Follow-up from Last Week’s Update:

○          I had a final interview with the ABC Group for the HR Manager position yesterday. I felt that my meetings with John Smith (President) and Joe Anderson (VP of Operations) went really well, and I definitely have a better understanding of the culture and direction of the organization.

Thanks again for your attention!

[insert full name here]

[insert email address here]

[insert mobile phone here]

[insert LinkedIn public profile URL here] and/or [insert Twitter handle here]

Attachment: My Resume

When You Know its Working

Once you have sent a few updates, your team will gain momentum if you remain focused. Not only will people start to source job openings and pass on your resume, many will offer encouragement and emotional support — and that is an amazing added benefit because job searching can be tough.

Continue to add additional team members as you increase your network, and don’t be afraid to ask people that you consider only an acquaintance to participate. You might be surprised at which team members end up helping you the most.

Ready, Set, Go!

So what are you waiting for? Go start your team! To further motivate you, consider these potential outcomes and what kind of impact they would have on your search (NOTE: I speak from experience as all of these scenarios happened to me as the result of my efforts with my own team a few years ago):

  • As your team grows, the number of people going to bat for you exponentially increases as teammates start forwarding your resume to others without you even realizing it (assuming you’ve given them permission to do so as described earlier).
  • Companies may call you because they heard about you from one of your contacts…and you didn’t even know the company was hiring. It’s great to feel popular during a job search!
  • Learn about intriguing job opportunities as they are forwarded to you by your team — the ones that may never get posted because the management team wants to source applicants from within its own informal networking groups.
  • As you land interviews, your interviewers may comment about having heard about your mad networking skills from others — and that will make you feel like a job-seeking genius! Plus, the hiring manager will be impressed.

If the prospect of starting a networking team still seems a little daunting, then start small by inviting your closest group of contacts to participate. Then, as you start to have little wins and gain more confidence, journey to the outer “ripples” in your circle of contacts. You won’t be disappointed and what could be better than having more teammates backing you on your search for the next amazing career opportunity?

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