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Networking Doesn’t Work (part II) – agree?

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 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.

What do you think?

16 Comments »

16 responses to “Networking Doesn’t Work (part II) – agree?”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. After realizing that LinkedIn’s “degrees of connection” numbers were nothing more than a fancy algorithm that grossly overinflated your projected networking reach, it got me thinking about how my own networking has done in getting me jobs. Quite frankly, my personal network has never had a direct impact on me getting a job. Your network of contacts is not going to magically find and secure work for you. I mean, though my network of contacts, I’ve gotten resumes looked at that otherwise would have been screened out. I have even gotten a few calls and an interview or two. That’s really the best my network can do for me: get the door opened. Walking through it and eventually getting the job are still up to me as a job candidate.

    The people that I think have a much greater impact on my job hunting success are my references. I have some great people that I’ve worked with in the past that have really praised my past work during reference check calls. I know this because I’ve had people tell me just that after hiring me. That’s not to say that keeping a professional network is worthless. I’m a web guy and have used members of my network for design, concept, and programming work in the past. That’s also not to say that my network won’t ever get me a job. Just because it hasn’t yet doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Landing a job and timing go hand in hand and if the cards play out in your favor, your network could certainly help you find work. I wouldn’t bank on it though.

  2. Mary Lou Hely says:

    This is an interesting discussion. As I look back on my career, just about every job I’ve landed was aided by a person I know or recently met. That includes, of course, my references. That includes 4th degree folks who I met at a party who gave me an idea. That includes colleagues who helped me prepare for an interview by showing me the ropes in a new industry. In a successful 30 year career with many different companies, in only one case did I land the position by just submitting a resume and having them contact me. In fact, that was my shortest held position. I got laid off a year later.

    The bottom line is that networking is critical for finding leads, getting references, learning more about the opportunities out there, and even just providing moral support through a tough time.

    Networking is not the single element that will do the work for you. It’s just an important component in the process. Nurture your relationships. Meet new people in your industry. It’s good for the soul and is very likely to provide some leads for you.

  3. Ernie Perez says:

    Networking is about connecting, building mutually beneficial relationships, and helping others. The reason ‘networking; has a bad rap is that when some who talk about and practive networking are not meeting the above definition.

  4. Bob says:

    To the person who said networking doesn’t work, I’d only like to say that I got my current job through networking. I have recommended two people to positions, one of whom got an interview and the other has yet to hear about a possible interview. When I was out of work, I helped someone land a job by alerting him to a position he otherwise wouldn’t have known about; this was a professional-level position. Another person benefited from my help when I told him about a position at the DPW (an entry-level position) in my city.

    Networking is more than attending networking groups, it’s a daily activity that can take the form of a mere conversation in the grocery store. Networking is also about helping others, even when you’re in the most need of work. Frankly, get over your bitterness and accept that no job search activity is 100% guaranteed. Networking is anywhere from 60-70% effective. You just fell into the 30% pool.

    And to the person who wrote this blog, shame on you for putting down networking or playing the Devils’ Advocate.

  5. Haneef N. Nelson says:

    The more I hear of people who say networking doesn’t work, the more that I come to understand that 99% of these people don’t know what networking is in the first place. Anyone who is relying on their network to land them a job will be supremely disappointed as it’s not your networks job to land you the job, in fact you shouldn’t network for the sole purpose of personal benefit in the first place.

    When it comes to job searching, your network may be able to open a door to a contact or to get your resume reviewed when it normally wouldn’t see the light of a reviewers desk, but you still have to “sell” yourself in an interview and prove to be one of the most competent persons for a job. So to say networking doesn’t work means (at least from my perspective) that you are expecting your network to do something that YOU the networker is supposed to do yourself, show yourself to be the best candidate for the job.

    Networking should never be a self-centered effort to begin with. The reality is that anyone who networks with others will at some point look to receive from their network, but networks are like bank accounts, if there’s nothing deposited, there’s nothing that you can withdraw; or, if you have overdrawn from what you have deposited then you will be in the negative.

  6. Mike Frank says:

    I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject.

    You need to look at networking as an avenue to a job you might get (not will get), not the panacea to getting a job.

    You are a salesperson, and there are certain accepted protocols that have been there for years.

    Pretend you are a salesperson selling you. Now really sell you.

    You need to make cold calls, send out resumes, follow up sending out the resume with a human being on the other end by phone or by email. (A lot of people tend to be less threatened by messages delivered through their computer.)

    Don’t give up on yourself, and always, always, ALWAYS HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR TO GET YOU THROUGH THE DAY.

    I may have strayed off the subject, but I hope that I helped you gain some perspective AND that you realize that we ALL go through the doldrums when were out of work for a long time. It’s just a blip in your life, and things will get better where you will eventually land in something you will hopefully like, and maybe even eventually love.

  7. Mike Frank says:

    One other thing . . . when I started out on my job hunt, I went to networking groups to meet people, and hopefully get job leads. I got lot’s of leads, met lots of nice people, and the group eventually became a workshop with guest speakers. If you have anything like that in your area, you should definitely go to a couple of meetings, but don’t go to every meeting because “your job is to find a job” working the phone, sending resumes, follow up on your submissions, 8 to 9 hours a day . . . just like me :-)

    Not working yet, but I will be REAL SOON.

  8. thom singer says:

    You knew I would “bite” and leave a comment.

    People mistakenly think that “networking” is a magic bullet. They will go to a few event, complain about the job market, and then proclaim “networking does not work!”. These people are right… Networking does not work if you do not WORK. In the middle of the word “networking” you will find the word “WORK”. If you thought it was quick and easy then someone lead you down the wrong path!

    Networking is “The creation of long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships between two or more people where all involved prosper more because of the relationships than they would without the relationships”.

    Lets look at that definition:

    Creation (ummmm, that means you have to make it. Relationships and useful business connections do not happen by accident or happen just because you showed up at a happy hour)

    Long-Term (ummm, that means you cannot expect results fast. Treat others as expendable for years… then call them when you get laid off…. you get a big NOTHIN’ from them. This is your fault, not theirs. Building a long-term relationship takes time to establish and cultivate. Sorry.. No short-cuts).

    Mutually-beneficial (ummm, that means you cannot look at the other person as a genie in a bottle who will grant your every wish. You must bring something to the table. This “something” need not be big or equal to what they bring you… but it must exist. Takers get NOTHIN’ from networking!)

    Two or more (ummmm, that means you cannot do it from your computer in your pajamas. I know, I know, social media changed the world. Bullshit. The ways we communicate have changed, how we are wired as human beings in our souls has not changed. A connection on LinkedIn without a meaningful relationship will bring you NOTHIN’)

    All involved prosper more (ummmmm…..Your goal must be to see the other person prosper.. not just seeing yourself prosper. Yes, I know, you need a job. But if you only care about networking when you need something you will get NOTHIN’. See “mutually-beneficial).

    More from the relationships than without the relationships (ummmm… All opportunities come from people. A doorknob is a useful tool to get you into a room, but it will not bring you an opportunity. Put your attention on cultivation connections with human beings and you will find yourself on top of a mountain screaming “NETWORKING DOES WORK!)

    thom

  9. Networking is about doing for others more than you do for yourself–in small ways and large — from making sure a team member gets recognized for an individual contribution, to referring someone to a recruiter when you’re not interested in a position, to helping someone get the connection they need.

    It can be as small as making people feel good everyday and as big as helping a colleague with a tough project when you don’t have to. It all adds up.I always say it’s a “give to get gig” and that means networking generously, not “I’ll do it for the payback.”

    True generosity will help you build a big bank account of personal relationship currency and when you need help people will be lining up to give it to you.

    Almost all of my exec clients know this, have become great networkers over time, and the majority get their jobs that way.

  10. Over the 20+ years that I’ve been writing resumes and coaching clients, the vast majority of my clients have received their positions through luck and having great career marketing communications. Luck??? I define luck as the intersection of when preparation meets opportunity. And what is the preparation??? NETWORKING—making and nurturing the right contacts with the right people on an ongoing basis–not just when there’s a career crisis!

  11. That Guy says:

    To those saying I don’t understand networking: every definition listed in these comments has been bolstered loud and clear on every job advice blog and forum.

    All of this is old material seen everywhere. You can only remain ignorant of the concept in its deepest meaning if you haven’t been looking it up. It -does not- work. Even with some of these definitions it makes it impossible for most people who aren’t making a six-figure income to network because they have nothing to “give” in order to “get.” Frankly the idea that you have to network at all shows how screwed up the hiring process is.

    Companies should not be posting job ads only to create résumé “black holes.” If you’re going to put up an ad you should actually make sure you have the time to read them. I’ve seen hiring managers toss out résumés because they were brought to them “on bland #20 paper” instead of more expensive types of paper. I’ve seen them read a sentence and disregard the rest. They ignore work history, portfolio, qualifications and certifications if they aren’t “salespeople” in the first breath, for technical positions that require minimal social interaction.

    To those saying I should stop being bitter: I’ll stop when hiring managers end sadistic, misanthropic hire/fire practices and start embracing reality.

  12. Jason Alba says:

    @That Guy – I don’t think you are necessarily (or unjustly) bitter or wrong. I know that networking didn’t work for me until I changed what I was doing, but perhaps you’ve done it all and it just plain won’t work for you.

    Maybe it is because there aren’t enough jobs to go around… no one is hiring, etc.

    My point in posting this was to present YOUR comment, which is NOT UNCOMMON. I hear it all the time. I also hear, like in the other comments, that networking does work.

    What works for one might not work for all, etc.

    Regarding your other stuff, about the black holes, etc. What an intense frustration… It has been years since I’ve been in a job search but I will not forget that frustration, and the disrespect from employers and HR. Things need to change but I don’t see that changing until someone big goes through the frustration and brings change about in a large organization…

  13. J. DePalma says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a power networker, but almost all of my positions have resulted from a recommendation from someone that I knew. To paraphrase several folks on the board, networking is work and it really is about building a relationship with people. Now, this may eventually lead to friendships, but often you at least have some working knowledge of a person: more than just a business card and email.

    Personally what has worked really well for me is 1) asking and 2) connecting. Anytime that I have really asked around for leads, something has happened. Someone somewhere “knows someone” and a connection is made. This happened recently when my husband was laid off from his position and I went back to work after a 2 year career hiatus in a brand new city to boot! I was introduced to a company that didn’t even realize it needed me. We met, talked and a new position was born.

    The second is connecting. Almost every time I have a follow up meeting with someone, I try to think of a beneficial person for them to meet. I also try to think of ways to make that person look like a superstar in their company. I work in the design/build industry and most of my counterparts are the in-house marketing staff. I am often sending them leads or information for them to forward. This currency is almost always given freely without any strings attached.

    I do believe that at certain periodic points you need to stop trying to meet new people and go back and deepen those current relationships. I will fall into cycles of meeting new folks, then stepping back and just having one-on-one meetings instead and then go back to the large networking events then rinse and repeat.

    The six-degrees of separation theory is very much in effect– sometimes you just need to take a look to see where those connections can be and sometimes you just need to go out and try to make that first step.

  14. Rita Carey says:

    Maybe Networking needs a “name-change.” When job seekers are told they have to network in order to get a job, they see it as a self-serving activity that should lead to a job offer. What else might we call it? For one thing, it is not a direct route to a job offer; for another, it is not all about us; for another, it’s value increases over time. Perhaps a new name might help people to better understand their role in the process of building reciprocal relationships.

    That said, I do understand how the misconception occurs. We Career Consultants emphasize networking to our out-of-work clients. Our out-of-work clients are feeling the urgency of re-employment. If networking is a slow process of building genuine relationships and they are anxious, we need to help them see the long term benefits of building their circle of influence. We know, but they may not, that most of them will look for a job again (and again) most likely. Networking, done well, is an investment.

  15. Freeman says:

    I’m sorry but I’m with the OP. This networking is just a thinly disguised euphemism for “playing the hustle game” and hoping they like your “game”. The same techniques for being a pickup artist with women. Basically, you’re whoring yourself while at the same time, trying to compete with the whore next to you. The only difference is, in the job hunting game, you don’t see the person you are competing with. You can’t see what they’ve got that you don’t. We’ve become nothing more than products and America deserves to go down to toilet because of it. No one will cry at the funeral.

  16. Sam says:

    I can totally understand and empathize whenever I hear networking has not worked and when people have lost confidence in it.

    I have always liked to use nourished two-way relationship-building or relationships rather than networking and attempted to go out of way with sincerity, but have become hurt with confidence shaken with networking.

    A experienced, hearing it touted that networking or whom the job seeker is known by has caused me to roll my eyes after I personally experienced trying to maintain touch with some past colleagues as co-workers or former bosses from previous companies, but at worst not getting replied to for no logical reason unlike before and when all has been good or as bad when is seen one after sometime passively unfriending you for no reason.

    Also, I recall unfortunate instances where I volunteered sincerely and with interest at a nonprofit, but never having a job resulting from it despite an interview for a part-time job and worse declined from volunteering further after being back in town after some months just being told the organization is not a good fit.

    Also, I have usually utilized LinkedIn or FB regarding contacts and gone in a way to seek advice and interest in positions in their companies with offering a hand, yet nothing has gone forward.

    These have been such hurtful and questionable scenarios after I have been doing what is advised in articles, despite I having gotten interviews for jobs at times and not getting an offer with making sure I do everything as advised?

    Thanks!

    1.What is the value of “networking” when people you genuinely reach out to with lending a hand reply back to others, but not you personally as hurtful or when nothing happens after you sincerely volunteer somewhere?

    2.Also, where is the value and benefit in networking when you are competing with several other applicants while the internal person with hiring pull in the organization knows the other competing applicants well in addition to you and only one person can be hired?

    3. Where is the law of karma of when good is attempted that it comes back rather than such bad as described above?