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One of the best methods for finding unadvertised jobs is through networking: developing and utilizing contacts that can provide information, job leads and support. Since most jobs are filled through ‘word of mouth’, talking to the right people can help you in your job search.

Who can you network with?

Start with your existing contacts: family, friends, co-workers, classmates, professors, etc. Make sure they know that you are looking for work. Ask them for possible contacts that may be able to offer you advice.

Consider becoming joining professional industry associations.  The dominant trade or industry group in your area may be a good place to start. Take advantage of luncheons, seminars or conferences to meet and network with other members. Volunteering on a committee is a good way to develop relationships and expand your network.

Talk to strangers.  While waiting in line, riding on public transit, attending social events, you can find opportunities to strike up conversations with others.

Some networking dos and don’ts…

Do create a your own networking card (link to networking card)-  Use your networking card in social and professional networking situations,  when handing out your resume is not appropriate.

Don’t ask for a job — it’s something the person may not be able to provide. However, most people will be able to provide helpful, ‘insider’ advice. Don't worry. If you seem qualified for a position, they'll refer you to the right person to set up an interview.

Do prepare a 30-second ‘infomercial’ about yourself and practice it.  It should include what you want the listener to know about you: who you are, what you have to offer, what you are looking for.

Do follow through. If your contact has taken the time to refer you to someone, make sure you follow through. Whether they have asked you to send your resume, make a phone call or something else, make sure you do so in a timely manner.

Do remember that networking is a two-way street. Offer to assist your contacts in any way you can.  For example, if you are new graduate with little experience, you may not be able to help the Controller find her next position -- but her daughter might be starting college and want to hear your advice on study skills, recommended courses, etc.

To learn more about networking attend a Networking Workshop or visit 17 Tips To Survive Your Next Networking Event.