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Networking Doesn’t Work

April 17th, 2008

Mark Hovind - owner of JobBait.com - helping 100,000+ job seekers land their next gigOr, maybe it only works for three out of ten people.

Which means out of a hundred people, it won’t work for seventy of them.

Clarification (posted at 7:35pm MST on 4/18/08): Mark makes it clear on his website and in his comment that these stats are in a 90 day period… so sure, maybe more people will be more successful in more than a 90 day period, but his point is that if you are going from zero-to-job in 90 days, the numbers apply.

That’s pretty darn frustrating. Especially since I’ve come to believe that two of the most important things I could do for my job search and/or career management include (1) network, and (2) develop my personal brand.

And now I learn that networking doesn’t work. It’s not the silver bullet. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many job blogs. There wouldn’t be so many books on job search. We would all be networking maniacs, living giver’s gain, and oh what a different world we would live in!

Where do I get this notion that networking doesn’t work? Mark Hovind, who owns JobBait.com (and sponsored my rebranding contest – thanks Mark!), has it all over his website. Here’s how he breaks it down (you can see this on his left menu):

I’m not sure how he came up with these numbers, but I’ve been chewing on this concept (specifically, networking to a job) since I first talked to him months ago.

You know what? I think I agree. Here’s why:

Most people do not have a real network. I didn’t, when I got laid off. I had not nurtured relationships, and was not prepared to approach hardly anyone for my new job search. My network contacts were all company and vendor and customer contacts, and I didn’t realize that when you get let go it’s almost as if you have leprosy and people aren’t supposed to talk with (or help) you. So I was basically starting over.

Most people don’t know how to network. Pass business cards. Give your thirty second pitch. Shake hands, give a job lead, introduce me to someone you just met…. these are all good things, but they can (and usually are) superficial. I cringed at thinking of networking with the unemployed person… until I read Never Eat Alone. That book was my #1 must read to get my head straight with regard to “networking.” Most important paradigm shift for me? The concept of an “intimate relationship.”

Most people don’t follow up. Getting beyond that superficial stuff… beyond that first point of contact, or the second point of contact, and work on a strategy that includes following up. Did you know that if you send an interviewer a thank you card you will stand out? You may be the only one who sends a business card. Guess what – in a networking environment, if you actually follow up with someone you meet, you’ll stand out! Because most people don’t!

Most people think growing their network list is networking. Get more business cards. Or collect more LinkedIn contacts, Facebook Friends, Plaxo contacts… all the data. “My network is big!” “I have 500 first degree contacts!” “Connect with me and I’ll give you access to my 8 million connections!” Those 8 million connections are worthless, as far as relationships go. It’s not just about how wide your network is, or how deep your network is, but also how strong each relationship is.

So what do you think? Is Mark Hovind right? Are only three out of ten people going to find their next job through networking?

Are we so unsuccessful at finding jobs this way because (a) networking doesn’t work, or (b) we are doing it wrong?

I find this concept amazing and would love to hear what you think.

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29 Responses to “Networking Doesn’t Work”

  1. thom singer says:

    Hmmmmmm. I agree that bad networking or poorly done networking does not work, but when done correctly it leads to “Going Direct” (which he claims is 85% effective).

    Much like improper use of birth control renders if useless…. impropper networking leaves it useless.

    I would agrue that those who have worked hard to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships with a wide variety of people are immune from this information anyway…. as those people are never really out of work or need a job… as opportunities always find them.

    All opportunities come from people, thus networking is always successful when it can lead you to the right person.

  2. I think networking really works. But I also think you’re right that it doesn’t. Or that many networkers aren’t really networking.

    Networking should be about building relationships, not a phone book.

  3. Melina says:

    If networking is defined as simply collecting business cards, sure, it doesn’t usually work.

    But my definition of networking is to go beyond the business card trade and handshake to get to know the person, both professionally and personally.

    I see attending a networking event and introducing myself as the “cold call” part of building a relationship. It takes conversations beyond the initial to actually make a real connection. Getting to know someone allows me to learn their goals, strengths and weaknesses. (this takes time) That way, if an opportunity comes up where I can match two contacts, I have more to go on than a name and phone number.

    So, I do believe networking can work…you just have to pay attention the the “work” part of the word, take action. And don’t expect a one day turnaround. It takes time to build relationships!

    -Melina

  4. Networking doesn’t work the way most job seekers under utilize networking opportunities.

    Networking isn’t just gathering business cards. Networking isn’t passing out resumes or asking everyone in the room for jobs.

    Networking is helping others….first.

    An effective networking contact for me, is someone with a problem that I can solve, or recommend someone to solve. If I’ve provided value first, without asking for anything in return, I’ve recruited a personal fan.

    Business cards won’t help you much. Personal fans will.

    For more information on how to use face to face and virtual networking to help your job search, read my blog with daily career tips: http://reCareered.blogspot.com.

    Phil Rosenberg
    President, reCareered & Rainmakers Global
    Email: phil.rainmakers@gmail.com
    Blog: http://reCareered.blogspot.com

  5. Mark Hovind says:

    Here is a little more information on networking that might help, and please remember, my stats are for six-figure executives only.

    The experts claim that “60% to 70% of executives find a job by networking.” This is a half-truth. Finish the sentence please: “60% to 70% of executives find a job through networking AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIME.” Don’t think for a minute that you’ll find your NEXT job with these odds.

    The 30% stat comes from a well-known six figure job-board with 10,000 plus members who did a survey. They reported that 37% of their members found interviews (not jobs) through a combination of three strategies, including networking. And, their average member had been on board for 11 months. Since it typically takes a few interviews to get a job, one could easily argue that networking odds are MUCH less than 37% in 11 months. Our estimate of 30% in 90 days is VERY generous.

    The hype about networking is plentiful. If you’d like to see the rest, go to link #13 on JobBait … http://jobbait.com/a/hype.htm.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark Hovind
    JobBait.com

  6. Networking does work. Over the last half of my career I’ve gotten all of my job opportunities via networking. Until recently I didn’t even know that I was networking. I just thought I was keeping in touch with my former colleagues that had become friends.

    If networking doesn’t work then people are not properly networking. Like any thing in life, some people are natural networkers, some need to learn how to network properly and unfortunately some people will never get it.

    To be realistic about my network relationships I consider 3 categories in the following order of importance:
    1 – Network collaborator – this is the ideal and it would be great if all my connections could be in this category but my goal is always to move the next two categories into this category when I can.
    2 – I’m a supplier – the person may be new to networking or they consider me an expert in some thing that they need occasional assistance with. Of course I give when asked but also give at other times. This is my giving farm from which I hope to cultivate network collaborator relationships.
    3 – I’m the consumer – these are people that I need a service or product from. They typically only contact me if they have some transaction to conduct. An example of this may be my relationship with a recruiter. I’d like to actively network with them but they are probably busy super connectors and don’t have time or interest in a more intimate networking relationship. However, there is value in having a small percentage (maybe 2%) of people in this category to add some depth to your network.

    There is some thing that I’ve observed with some novice networkers. I’m happily employed and have met some folks at networking events that were in transition. I contacted them, offered assistance, reviewed their resume, gave some advise, passed along some job leads. I’d keep in touch often but not to often and would get responses and it seemed like we were on the road to becoming good network collaborators. Then after 2 or 3 months my emails go unanswered. I don’t think it is me because this doesn’t always happen. I wonder if they thought networking is a formula with instant results and when it doesn’t provide results quickly they give up. For these individuals I’ve noticed they haven’t updated their LinkedIn profile nor have they added any body recently to their LinkedIn network and no email messages from them on our mutual networking group’s email list. I guess for them networking didn’t work. Does that mean networking doesn’t work? I don’t think so!

  7. Sure, direct mail worked in the 1970′s. Now employers expect customization.

    I’ll quote Seth Godin, marketing Guru…”Great jobs, world class jobs, jobs people kill for… those jobs don’t get filled by people emailing in resumes. Ever.” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/03/why-bother-havi.html

    Even worse, if Mr. Hovind junk mails 3,500 paper resumes blindly to the universe, it means he’s snail mailing THE EXACT SAME RESUME to 3,500 people. That “throw enough stuff against the wall, and some will stick” strategy used to work when paper resumes were the norm.

    Today, employers get hundreds or even thousands of resumes for each job. The resumes that get interviews are customized to exactly fit the job. The resumes that get buried are the single page, general, non-subject matter expert resume that was customary before the internet age.

    I know what I do with junk mail. What do you do?

    For more information on how to use face to face and virtual networking to help your job search, read my blog with daily career tips: http://reCareered.blogspot.com.

    Phil Rosenberg
    President, reCareered & Rainmakers Global
    Email: phil.rainmakers@gmail.com
    Blog: http://reCareered.blogspot.com

  8. Cindy Kraft says:

    My belief is that networking doesn’t work when people 1) don’t know how to do it, and 2) only fake networking when they need something.

    Because networking is a two-way street and because trusted relationships grow as a result of being a resource to or helping others, it is ineffective when you’ve lost your job and suddenly start networking … usually with other unemployed people. Without a job and in some cases the loss of identity that accompanies job loss, that person no longer feels he has anything of value to give. Without giving, it is difficult to get anything in return.

    Networking is most effective when it is done as a life–long habit and when you don’t need anything … but can merely put yourself in the position to give to others. It takes time and attention in order to reap the benefits.

    Sadly, we get wrapped up in our little lives or land a new job and suddenly there is no time to do the one thing that needs to be done … nurture our network. Then when the need arises again in the future, we have no network to help us.

    What I find from my clients is that they do benefit from networking, backed with a compelling and visible online presence, with many of their opportunities coming through people they know who know people they want to know.

    Cindy Kraft
    The CFO–Coach
    cindy@cfo-coach.com

  9. I think networking works quite well like the old saying goes, “It’s who you know”. Often that is true, but if you don’t have connections, check out this job board that is just like online networking, http://www.jobrific.com

    I’ve had good luck while job searching and in fact, that’s how I got my current job. =)

  10. Deb Dib says:

    Fascinating discussion! I believe networking does work when done properly, as many have mentioned in their comments.

    “Properly” means you give more than you take, you value your relationships for their quality rather than for their “usefulness,” and you have a bank of “good will” that has more deposits than withdrawals. That’s the kind of network that can deliver opportunities–and opportunities don’t have to be a direct job offer. Opportunities might be an introduction to a key contact, or information about a target company, or a friendly/professional/confidential ear when you need one most.

    The network that one cobbles together in desperation after a job loss — the network that says “user!” is not the network that works, that’s for sure.

    I also believe that Mark’s direct mail approach works, too. I know Mark, how he works, and some of my clients have used his service. He is as smart as they come, committed to excellence, and highly ethical. I don’t believe in typical direct mail approaches — they are generic, scattergun, and pointless. But Mark’s service is different. He spends hours with a client, digging deep into lists and working up a sweet-spot grouping of companies that meet very specific criteria. OK, maybe others do that too, but not with the intense scrutiny Mark provides.

    Now here’s the biggest difference between Mark’s services and more generic operations–Mark will not send out anything unless it has a tightly written, concise, powerful value proposition tied to the needs of the client’s target industry. (Note, these are snail mailed letters, not e-mails.)

    Granted, a “mass mailed” letter, no matter how targeted the list, can’t be specific to an individual company. Yet, when done right, it can be tied tightly to industry issues in general. However, the most important thing is that the value prop be so powerful, so irresistible, that contact is almost guaranteed when that letter is opened by a decision maker.

    And that’s a key point — Mark’s letters go to decision-makers, not HR, and they often are mailed WITHOUT a resume. Their power stands in that value proposition — that defined and dollarized promise of potential to go beyond the expected and do great things for a company.

    Mark’s letters make contact — they get face-time with CEOs or Chairmen. They may not always get jobs, but Mark’s value-prop letters open doors to opportunities. Like good networking, they create connection based on value. And of course, with purposeful candidate post-letter follow-up that focuses the value prop, there is even more likelihood of connection.

    I’ve recently had an executive client doing a long-distance job search (Singapore to New York) use Mark’s service. My client and I worked hard to build a clear and powerful value prop based upon his brand and value. Mark built him a website using my content, I wrote the value prop letter, and the mailing (no resume) went out. Shortly after, my client got a personal phone call from the CEO of a company he had targeted. The CEO gave him his personal number and told him to call him as soon as he got to New York — that he HAD to speak with him. They did talk when he arrived in NYC, but my client declined to continue the discussion as the fit wasn’t right. He also had other conversations with company leaders as a result of the mailing, one of which may lead to his dream job when the company finishes a reorganization.

    Now here’s the interesting thing in light of this discussion– Mark’s targeted campaign worked to deliver real opportunities, but so did my client’s networking. He’s an entrepreneurial British ex-pat and Managing Director of an international office in Singapore that he built form #8 of 9, to #2 in just four years, and now things were running well, he was bored and eager to move to NYC.

    Not one to hold off on action, once he sent the letter campaign and flew to the US for his interviews in NYC, he came back to Singapore, and resigned, giving 6 months notice and agreeing to train his successor. As soon as he resigned he no longer had to do a confidential search and was able to tell all his contacts about his goal to find a job in New York.

    One of his great skills is relationship building and he has a vibrant global network. Once he resigned and shared his goal of working in NYC, word spread like wildfire and within weeks he had exploratory conversations going and multiple opportunities. He’s just accepted a position with an Italian firm to head their New York office. This all happened in about a month!

    And he’s hoping the “dream job” opportunity that he got from Mark’s mailing may yet materialize. That company is constantly in touch with him and is keeping him in the lop as to progress of their reorg. He’s committed to the new position but has not ruled out an eventual transition to that dream job if the timing is right.

    Bottom line? For my client (and other clients I’ve not discussed), Mark’s mailing, and my client’s networking both worked. No recruiters, no on-line job postings. Just clear goals, a powerful value prop, determination, a targeted mailing (without a resume!), and a vibrant network. Pretty cool.

    For more some introductory information on value propositions see http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/2118870/229 and for information on jump-starting a network if you’ve neglected it and need one fast, see http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/2873352/26248852. And visit Mark’s site for some specifics on value props http://www.jobbait.com/valueprop.htm — in fact, tour Mark’s site for some pretty enlightening information — and an endorsement from Jeffrey Fox, author of one of my favorite books, “Don’t Send a Resume.”

    Deb Dib, CEO Coach and Certified Personal Brand Strategist
    President, Executive Power Brand
    Blog: http://www.executivepowerbrand.com/blog_index.html

  11. Pam Grosicki says:

    The often quoted 70% of jobs are found through networking is rumored to have originated within the outplacement industry in the 1980s (pre modern day Internet.) Our own data at IMPACT Group (which I have been studying for the last ten years or so) shows that the effectiveness of networking varies by income level. I will share the charts with you Jason if you’d like to post. To compile our data, we ask those who have successfully “landed” two questions: “how did you learn about” and as a follow up, “how did you land” your new position. This is an important distinction since a “blended approach” where no one strategy is pursued in isolation of another may have been in play. We advise job seekers with whom we work that multiple approaches to landing a position should be pursued (especially if the opportunity was found online and/or required an online resume submission.) My personal theory is that the Internet has changed the nature of networking in that it’s where opportunities are now disseminated (versus having to use one’s network to learn about the opportunities as in “days of old”). It’s where connections are established and re-established. We are learning that sites like LinkedIn are proving valuable to those in job search. They offer a means to network to decision-makers, hiring managers and employees within a hiring organization, as well as to maintain connections with former colleagues. All of us who use the Internet effectively will know it’s where you meet people you would otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet. In other words, I could argue that the Internet is a networking vehicle that supports and supplements face to face networking when used effectively, including to uncover hiring organizations, growing occupations and emerging industries and yes, published job openings.

    Which brings me to another myth …. that 80% of jobs are “hidden” or unpublished. It’s another pre-Internet statistic that we can’t seem to dispell….. :)

    Pam Grosicki
    Director, Product Development
    IMPACT Group

  12. [...] And I networked my way into this relationship (maybe networking does work?)! [...]

  13. Nancy B says:

    Couple of different thoughts came to mind as I read through the discussion…

    I agree with Thomas… most of my job changes (both within a company and between companies) have come through former colleagues.

    I sort of disagree with part of Pam’s post… I think that many job postings aren’t ‘hidden’ but they aren’t firm either… every job I have ever had was custom built for me. “We’re spinning a new group up and we have these three things in mind if you join, how does that sound?”

    But there is a flip side to this… as a PMO manager I was able to find recruiters willing to build a relationship. Understand our architecture and or needs enough to provide great candidates that REALLY do build .Net applications built on Oracle back ends.

    What I have never found is the genre of recruiters that work in the other direction… where are the PMO, governance, process improvement recruiters who are looking for long term relationships with candidates who’s careers center around 2-3 year placements and hop over to a different industry or corporate structure?

    I have been careful to accept invitations to network online only with those I know from past / present jobs or folks that I have had several e-mail conversations / Q&A with… a couple of LIONS have sneaked in here and there… but I have always been skittish of amassing more relationships than friendships.

    How many of those folks are in a position to offer me that next job over the next year or two? 5 or 6… maybe… if the stars align and their organizations are facing massive change and they need someone to come in and help facilitate structure and process happiness.

    Does that mean I don’t network enough? That I’ve narrowed my interests too much? Both?

    I envy my colleagues from India… they are sooo much better at keeping each other employed… especially those folks still struggling to get their green cards… many have had long standing H1 visa jobs and ‘just’ as the paperwork gets close to coming through for the elusive green card they are laid off and have to scramble to find a way to stay in the US. It always feels very pioneer-like to me… much more of a sense of community than I have in my world.

    But as I embark on trying to figure out how to best leverage the thousands of people who are one click away through the various sites and lists and forums and such I wonder more and more what method of interaction are we all missing that would make these virtual connections more meaningful?

    To me that is the key to making ‘networking’ work.

  14. What a great topic – one of my favorites. I know Mark – why he is in my network – as are Deb Dib, Jason Alba, and Cindy Kraft.

    Networking DOES work. Time and again, my clients land positions using their network. BUT, as others have said, it must be done right. “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?” is NOT networking done right. And this happens to be the way many people start their search.

    One of my clients, a senior programmer, was unemployed 18 months before meeting with me. (She’d been downsized after 25 years at a company that had been acquired.) She said, “Do NOT tell me to network. It does not work.” Really? Hmmm. How are you going about it? Why she asked people, “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?” Yep, began emails this way, sending out a poorly done resume with each one. And when meeting with friends, her opening line was the “know anyone” line.

    So, for 18 months, her network did not work.

    What we did: First revamped all communication pieces – resume, cover letter, email format, etc. Next, identified all of her contacts. (Think BIG people.) Then, we created a sound bite that could be quickly revamped for emails, in-person meetings, and even her bowling league. (For more tips on how to structure yours: http://www.knocks.com/Personal_Branding_Sound_Bite.html.) My client took action.

    Guess what? Within three weeks she had a new job at a higher level, project management, despite it beeing summer and one of the weeks Fourth of July.

    How did this happen? Why one of the people on her bowling league said, “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to work at X company? My son works there!” So, my client gave her friend the new resume, her friend passed it on, and my client landed her dream gig. This person had been in her network the whole time!

    Steve, a six-figure commercial lender (and one of my clients), has landed his last four positions using his network – maintaining it throughout his career. Each position was at a higher level – in title, compensation, perks, etc.

    George created his last two positions where no position had been before – one as a marketing director. He made the connection at one of my live Rock Your Network(R) events. His most recent position he created by remaining connected with those he met.

    Lisa, a human resources manager who had recently relocated, also landed her most recent position through networking – despite having no local network (or so she thought). She too attended one of my Rock Your Network(R) events and made several connections. Yes, she followed up (like others have mentioned). She was most amazed by how warm people were and by how much they wanted to help.

    Can the internet be used for networking? Heck yes! Again, it must be done right. Asking for favors with zero connection is not networking. It’s begging. Networking is about relationships – building them and maintaining them.

    Margaret, working in DC politics, wanted a major career change. She jumped on FaceBook and reconnected with some friends from high school. One of them had her exact dream job with her dream company. She learned more about the position and her friend got her an interview.

    Networking DOES work – offline or on. The important thing to remember is that it is a two-way street. Build and maintain the relationship.

    Can they be revived after being dormant for years? Yes! Yesterday I got a call from a former co-worker. It had been 10 years since I had heard from her. She called with an opportunity, not begging for a job. She called to reconnect. She called to ask for help with her husband’s company who is experiencing a downsizing – and she wants to put me in touch with their HR team. Now that is the right way to go about reconnecting.

    A wrong way? Got a call last week from another former co-worker. He wants a change. What names could I give him? Who do I know in the X field? Hmmm. I had not talked this person in several years and the first thing he wants are my connections.

    See the diff?

    Challenge: Take a look at how you’ve been networking. Really look. And be honest with yourself. Have you been begging or building?

    Wendy Terwelp, Networking Coach and Certified Personal Brand Strategist
    President, Opportunity Knocks(TM)
    Networking Tips: http://www.knocks.com/news.html

  15. In my professional career – working for three different employers, I did not land one job through networking. I like to think it was my charming personality! J/K…

    However, I do strongly believe my next gig will be developed through networking. Not because I have expanded my networking, but rather because the strength of my network (relationships) has increased.

    Robert Stanke
    http://www.robertstanke.com

  16. Great to look at the flip side of things, because the word out is that networking works, and I think it all depends on HOW you network. You are right… we suck at following up! After the networking event or initial email volley, the momentum fades and it is tough to boost yourself back to actually following up with connections and making them materialize. I am trying to understand the Psychology of Networking.

    -m-

  17. I found this discussion so interesting, I blogged on it yesterday, and interviewed the three founders of Networking For a Cause.

    Why “Networking Doesn’t Work”

    If you keep your eyes open, you’ll never stop being amazed.

    Jason Alba of JibberJobber.com quoted stats generated by JobBait (a resume mass mailing company) claiming (tongue-in-cheek) that “Networking Doesn’t Work”. But Mark Hovind’s (JobBait’s president) numbers also claimed that mass mailing 3,500 pieces of junk mail works 85% of the time for executive and managerial jobs. Maybe these stats were from the good-old 1970’s.

    It made me laugh, because the statement is just so blatantly wrong. Networking is a very effective way for subject matter experts to find the best jobs – that goes for face-to-face and online networking.

    Of course networking doesn’t work if a job seeker under utilizes networking opportunities.

    At their well attended event last night in Chicago, I asked the three founders of Networking for a Cause, Mark Carter, Becky Brett, and Justin Roy how people misuse networking opportunities.

    Networking Coach, Founder and CRO Mark Carter offered “Networking is connecting others who will help you also; not just trying to sell everyone you meet.”

    Justin added “Often, people blow it by being too selfish and self serving in their introduction.”

    Becky commented “People self destruct during networking when they focus too much on themselves and not enough on the other person. How many times do we have to say, ‘it’s not about you! It’s about what the other person needs.’ ”

    Networking isn’t just gathering business cards. Networking isn’t passing out resumes or asking everyone in the room or in your LinkedIN network for job leads. Because that isn’t networking, nor is it effective.

    Effective networking is helping others…first. Because a pile of business cards won’t help you much. Personal fans will.

    Networking for a Cause’s event invitation suggested that attendees ask other networkers what TWO things (or people) they need in the next 30-60 days. These could be connections, resources, information that are relevant to achieving a solid result soon. What are two problems are they facing? Who can help solve them?

    Great advice! An effective networking contact for me, is someone with a problem that I can solve, or recommend someone to solve. If I’ve provided value first, without asking for anything in return, I’ve recruited a personal fan.

    Personal fans help, because you’ve established a relationship with a personal fan. A personal fan wants to help, and depending what help you first provided…may even feel that they “owe” you.

    Sending your resume or a letter to a LinkedIN database, passing it out at a networking event, or snail mailing it to 3,500 people is just junk mail.

    What do YOU do with junk mail?

    If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at phil.rainmakers@gmail.com, and we’ll schedule a time to talk.

    http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-networking-doesnt-work.html

    Phil Rosenberg
    President, reCareered & Rainmakers Global
    Email: phil.rainmakers@gmail.com
    Blog: http://reCareered.blogspot.com

  18. Jason Alba says:

    Great comments people… I just updated the post with the following:

    Mark makes it clear on his website and in his comment that these stats are in a 90 day period… so sure, maybe more people will be more successful in more than a 90 day period, but his point is that if you are going from zero-to-job in 90 days, the numbers apply.

  19. anonymous says:

    One quick comment, if you are fishing in a swimming pool you will catch no fish.

    I tried the “give more than you take”, demonstrate your value at a volunteer position, always try to help the other person routine and it not only got me nowhere, it sucked me dry. People took advantage or for granted mostly. In some cases they were so timid and unsure of themselves they wouldn’t even know how to 1. introduce me 2. relay a message 3. make an inquiry. If you have good networkers in your network it can work (that’s why it’s more important what University you went to then what you studied) but if you have the average Joes and Janes (who don’t know how to network) as your 1st level contacts then networking is more hype than help.

    If like me, you have a few bloodsuckers in your network, you find yourself used and abused.

  20. Thanks for the great discussion and information.
    To add briefly to the conversation – one of my favorite career topics…

    Networking is about relationships. If your networking is about trying to win a job, you are less likely to succeed.

    Finding a job is not about who you know, but who you can get to know and how much they care about you.

    I’d be really interested in learning updated stats on networking and job seeking. In my estimation, online opportunities to connect are moving us more and more to a relationship-based environment. It is hard to believe that networking doesn’t contribute to MORE successful job searches rather than less.

    Miriam Salpeter
    Keppie Careers
    http://www.keppiecareers.wordpress.com

  21. Mike Thomas says:

    Jason –

    I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents:

    According to Irrefutable Law of Unemployment #2: “It’s better to have a network in place before you need it than trying to build one when you do.” This meshes well with the 90 day statistic. It also blends well with the assertion that most networking efforts seem superficial.

    The fact is, most network only when they need a network already in place. Most of us have made that mistake. Unfortunately, many repeat that mistake again and again. Trying to build a network when you actually need to leverage it causes desperation and an air of the superficial.

    That’s why you, me, and the rest of the job search experts in the blogosphere stress that networking is an on-going process. It shouldn’t begin when you get a pink slip, nor should it end on your first day at the new job.

    For those reasons, I agree that short-term networking does not work. Networking usually needs a longer tail, but given time turns up more qualified leads and targeted interviews than other methods.

    - Mike

  22. Barry Groh says:

    Jason,

    I would like to concur with many of the others that have replied to this post. I DO believe in the power of networking, and that is can and will work. The problem, as with all relationships, is that the only way a network will help is if it is nurtured and strengthened over time. Expecting to be able to meet someone one day and have them refer you to a position the next is a nice thought, but unrealistic.

    So also unrealistic is Mark’s statement of “going direct”. The problem with this belief is that it means you must know the contact/hiring manager at each location, know how best to get them to look at your information, and then do it over again thousands of times. I have never been impressed by any system that sends out a scattershot expecting responses. If they are not targeted, if there is no connection to help make the contact, and if there is no relationship with the hiring manager then you may be wasting your time.

    I think the reality of any job hunt is this: as with any other business, diversity is the key. Is it good to base all your work on networking and building your base of collegues, irresepective of any other avenue? Absolutely not. Should networking, along with some direct contact, job board searches, and other methods of activity be the plan? I think absolutely yes.

    Will networking work? If it doesn’t, millions of people are wasting numerous hours on social networking sites each and every day. If it does work, and I think there is evidence that it does, then the proof will also be in those same networking sites and the prople who support them.

    Barry

  23. Networking truly does work. I agree with Mike Thomas—for networking to be effective, you really must have a network in place. There are some great resources on this, including Harvey Mackay’s book, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, and John L. Bennett’s book, The Essential Network. These two gentlemen have a lot to say about the best ways to develop your own personal network.

    Networking isn’t just job searching. Networking is for your life. I network for my business, but I also network for my clients. My network contacts provide great resources for me to learn from and from which clients can build their own networks. I truly enjoy sharing the resources available to me with the people in my network.

    There are so many ways to learn how to create a great network. If a person’s network isn’t working, as many of you said in your comments, it’s because you don’t know how. So learn! Your network may not be working because the network isn’t in place and/or you aren’t isn’t supporting and contributing to it.

    Keep in mind that a network involves “give” and take—the operative word being “give.” Networking is a shared experience, not a “what’s-in-it-for-me” experience.

    Also, it’s not just building a list of names. It’s quality vs. quantity. You build a network with people with whom you have developed positive relationships. If you’re network is working for you, then shift your thinking.

    Think quality vs. quantity. Choose to network with people and organizations with whom you can build quality relationships.

    Think about giving vs. getting. Whether or not you’re looking for a job or in need, you still have information, kindness, and qualities to offer. So offer them!

    Start your network now, before you need it. Get to know people who are doing interesting things. Build mutuality among the people you admire and respect.

    Learn, grow, and expand from their knowledge and share your own. Make it work! It’s a process–not a magic remedy for getting what you want.

  24. John Gould says:

    I have discovered this over the years: It’s not what you know nor is it who you know, but rather it is who really knows YOU that really counts.

  25. Isn’t ‘going direct’ another form of networking. You need to know how/where to go if you’re going directly.

  26. That Guy says:

    “Networking” is the most overused word since 2008 (right after “green”). It is not effective even with proper guidance for 90% of people. I have seen counselors, spoken to career advisors, spoken to recruiters, etc. and followed their advice to the letter, keeping an up-beat and optimistic demeanor. I was still jobless for nine months, and when I did finally land a job, it was a minimum wage retail position.

    The notion that “it works when it’s done right” is pure, unadultered arrogance; trite words spoken out of ignorance and lack of perspective. There are complete idiots with no demonstrable skills whatsoever landing jobs right off the bat with no networking effort, while skilled, accomplished and intelligent people have a hard time finding work whether applying directly or through networking.

    It isn’t that “networking is done wrong,” it’s that 90% of employers are lead by people undeserving of any kind of decision-making position. They’d rather pay more to support unemployment through taxes than to actually hire people, so even from a cost-saving perspective, the idea of cutting and locking out jobs is a stupid one.

  27. [...] Posted under Job Search on August 19th, 2010 A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post called Networking Doesn’t Work.  It’s a good post Just yesterday someone left the following comment: “Networking” is the [...]

  28. Brad Attig says:

    Jason,

    I thought I had better jump in here before this topic sucks the bandwidth of the internet up.

    I’ll start with a favorite quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,

    “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

    “That Guy” clearly has a right to his opinion and one certainly cannot only read his job search frustration but feel it as well. I’d bet my 8 years of recruiting experience that in every conversation “That Guy” has, whether networking or interviewing, the other party senses it as well. It’s pretty caustic and problematic.

    People that use terms like “arrogance”, “idiots” and “stupid” to describe others don’t have a job for a reason. Any skilled interviewer will pick that up in a heartbeat. Plus do you want a person with those feelings in your network?

    I’m not going to get into the studies and numbers since my college economic days taught me you can pretty much make the stats support any argument.

    In this past meltdown, I’ve worked and counseled quite a few mid-level executives most with 15+ years experience. Almost everyone had the same story and here it is;

    “I’ve never really had to do a job search.”
    “I got all my positions from word of mouth, by following my mentor or getting a call from a recruiter.”
    “I know everyone in my industry.”
    “I’ve never had to have a resume.”
    “I don’t believe in networking.”

    I usually get silence when I ask, “Well, if you know everyone, why don’t you have a job?”

    Job search has changed. Employers at all levels have more options to find talent and increased access to incredible amounts of information. Job seekers are more sophisticated in their search.

    A Rolodex or stack of business cards held together with a rubber band isn’t a network. Networks take time and more importantly effort to build and nurture. To the “poor” job seekers that are convinced that their attempts to network resulted in them “being sucked dry” they got what they deserved.

    They only started to network to get a job. They expected to “get” something in return for what they gave, strings were attached and now they deal with the inevitable disappointment. The “why them, not me” mentality speaks volumes.

    I always advocate having a quiver of arrows and several methods of delivery, meaning you use a number of tools to get the job done.

    Networking is the short bow, done properly, it is a targeted effort to increase who you know and leverage who they know.

    Mass anything is the long bow; you shoot a lot of arrows up in the air from a great distance and hope one hits something. Sometimes you do.

    My favorite is the cross bow but I’ve written much more than I planned. Can you tell I’ve had too much coffee already?

  29. Shannon says:

    Networking works for three in ten? Probably more like one in ten.

    I’m so tired of these so-called “experts” handing out excuses for why networking doesn’t work. “You’re not doing it right”. Well, what IS the right way? It seems to change every year!

    “It takes time to build a network”. Well, then there’s no point in starting now, is there?

    Brad, you seem to be a prime example of ignorance in action. And arrogant as well. “It’s not working? Then it’s all your fault!” You have no idea how “that Guy” handles himself in an interview, you’re just pissed because he expressed an honest opinion.

    In my experience, when you hire someone who walks the walk and talks the talk, you usually find out the hard way you’ve hired a sociopath.

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