In this exclusive article from Go Zambia Jobs, we explain what is meant by the term “networking” and outline how you can use networking to help you find a job in Zambia.
What is networking?
Networking involves engaging with people in order to exchange information and add contacts.
Why should you try networking?
1. Employers do not always publicly advertise jobs
Employers often choose not to publicly advertise jobs. This is often called the “hidden jobs market”. Some employers prefer to employ people based on personal recommendations as this is perceived to be a less risky form of recruitment than employing a complete stranger.
2. Networking can lead to job creation
An employer who may not have been looking to take on a new employee may change their mind based on a recommendation from someone they know.
3. Networking can reduce competition
Jobs that are publicly advertised generally attract more applications, which increases the amount of competition. Networking can reduce the amount of competition you face for a job.
How to identify your existing network
Many people are surprised to discover the size of their existing network. Start by writing a list of all of your family, family friends, friends, friends of friends, teachers, coaches, tutors, work colleagues, former work colleagues and acquaintances in one column. In the next column write down their occupation (e.g. bar tender, electrician, accountant, solicitor etc.) and in the next column write down the industry in which they work (e.g. financial services, tourism, energy etc.). Remember that each person in your network has their own network of contacts who may also be able to help you!
How to expand your existing network
Every day is an opportunity to meet new people and to expand your network. Here are a few simple things that you can do to expand your network:
1. Make use of your personal network
You can use your current network to help you to expand your network. Make an effort to attend social gatherings and accept invitations to events. Set up social media account or utilise your exiting social media accounts to let your friends and family know about your skills and ask them to ask their friends and family if they know of any opportunities.
2. Develop a professional network
There are lots of ways that you can develop a professional network. This includes joining professional associations, attending business networking events and attending seminars. Technology has also made professional networking easier as it is now possible to join discussion groups and communicate with other professionals using the internet.
Preparation for networking
Once you have identified your network the next step is to ensure that you are prepared for when you make contact. It might be helpful to create an elevator pitch. This is the term used to describe a short summary used to help communicate a message, idea or concept in the time it takes to ride an elevator (between 30 seconds and 2 minutes). You should also ensure that you carry a CV and are able to answer frequently asked interview questions.
Nervous about making contact?
If you are still nervous about making contact remember that:
- Most people are happy to help others
- Most people will have been in a similar situation at some stage in their life
- Most people like to chat about what they do and give advice to those who show an interest
Try and engage in conversation before making any sort of request for employment. For example, a networking conversation may go something like,
“I am fascinated by X and have the following skills and experience. What advice would you have for someone in my situation? Do you know of any opportunities? Would it be possible to organise a work trial?”
Following up network activities
Having utilised your network to find a job make sure that you make the time to keep in touch with your connections. If people have helped you make sure that you contact them to say thank you and to let them know how you got on.
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