So That’s What You Mean By Networking

He wanted to meet so we could discuss his job search. He said it wasn’t going anywhere and he needed help re-starting it. And, he said he just needed to vent.

“Joyce, I’m not getting any replies to my resume. I must have sent out 300 copies and I haven’t gotten one nibble in response.  Please review it and tell me what’s missing.”

He handed it to me, I glanced at it and told him, as gently as I could, that he had forgotten to include his name and address.

That’s when he vented. He called himself every name in the book.  He stood, stomped around, flopped back down. He groaned and moaned; he slapped his head; he pulled his hair. We were two minutes into a meeting that had a long way to go before it ended, so I let him vent to his heart’s content. After he calmed down I dared to ask him to describe his networking efforts.

“Well, I’m telling people that I’m out of work, that I need a job, and they need to call me if they hear about anything.”

Have you heard from anyone?

“No, I haven’t”, he said. “And I’m disappointed. I thought some of these people were my friends, but I haven’t heard from anyone about anything. What’s going on? Are they avoiding me because I’m unemployed?”

They’re probably avoiding you because you’re making your job search their problem.  It’s up to you to find the openings, make the calls, and do the follow-ups.

“Then why bother networking? I thought the whole idea was to let friends and acquaintances know that you’re on the market so they could help. “

Sure, let them know how they can help, but from what you describe, you’re asking your friends to look for the jobs, and let you know when they find them. Change your approach. Describe your current status, your strengths, and your search. Then, ask their advice.

“What should I say? And what do you mean by, ‘ask for advice’?’”

Try something like this:  ‘Tom, I recently left the XYZ Company to continue my career in sales and…’

“Whoa, Joyce. I got fired. Shouldn’t I say that’s why I’m looking?”

Too much information. Why complicate the conversation? If you talk about getting fired the two of you will likely spend valuable time discussing all the “ain’t it awful” stuff that goes along with it. Before you know it, the conversation’s over and you haven’t succeeded in anything but confusing your contact about your suitability as a prospective job candidate.

“Got it. You have my attention. Let’s start over. What should I say?”

You want to describe what you do and why you’re successful doing it. You want your listeners to remember it, to get the word out, and to help you as a result, all because they want to, not because you asked. At our last meeting you told me about yourself and what you’re good at doing. With that in mind, I’ll describe a conversation that you can have with your networking contact, Tom.

Tom, I respect your opinion, that’s why I wanted to talk with you about my job search and to ask you a few questions.  I recently left the XYZ Company to continue my career in sales. Tom, what I do best is relationship selling, problem solving, and follow through on everything I do. I’m good at simplifying the sales process instead of making it more complex.  I take out the technical jargon so the folks I’m talking to understand what they’re buying and what’s right for them. When I give my word, I keep it. My customers are as loyal to me as I am to them. I work hard for my customers and for my companies and I’ve been rewarded for it. Tom, where are the best opportunities for someone with my strengths and who are the people I need to contact for leads?

“Joyce, that’s networking I can handle. It describes what I do, focuses my search, and puts the responsibility for finding the job where it belongs, on me.

Anything else I need to know?”

Plenty, but that’s enough for now.

* * * *

Yes! You may use this article in your blog, newsletter or website as long as you include the following bio box:

Joyce Richman ( has been specializing in executive and career coaching since she started her own practice in 1982. She works in a variety of environments including: higher education, manufacturing, sales, marketing, media, technology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, banking and finance, service, IT, and non-profit sectors. A member of the adjunct faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, Joyce is certified to administer a number of feedback and psychological instruments. Joyce has appeared regularly on WFMY-TV and is the career columnist for The Greensboro News & Record. She is the author of Roads, Routes and Ruts: A Guidebook to Career Success and co-author of Getting Your Kid Out of the House and Into a Job. A popular speaker, Richman conducts seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her coaching profile can be found at