References….. it is not clear why companies ask for them because you would probably never use someone as a reference unless they tell a great story about you! Well, it is a part of the process so you better take care of it. Step one is to secure the references.
Let’s first look at what groups you probably are associated with that can be part of your network:
Family; certainly via the inlaws, cousins, partners of siblings and their siblings, this can grow into a sizable network
Friends; time to catch up with them!
Church; your choir buddies or ministry friends
School; your old high school friends and their partners, college friends and their partners
work your network
Your kid’s school Parent Teacher Organization
Associations; professional associations, leisure association, your bookclub, diving group or other soccer team
The Gym; lots of shoptalk happens during a run or after a workout, be prepared and carry your tools
Vendors; your hairdresser, nail polish lady, doctor, therapist, career coach, dentist; Yes while you are interacting with them mention your plans and see how they react
Colleagues, although I hesitate to get too close with your current team about your plans to move on but former colleagues at another company can be a great source of contacts and help. They have already done what you plan to do so ask them about it. Also colleagues from a company where you used to work can be powerful allies in the job search.
Recruiters and HeadHunters, stay in touch with them, send them resumes from friends that may be able to fit into positions they are looking to fill, become a friendly source for them.
The question with lots of networks online is how effective they are for our purpose. Certainly you can reach a large group of people but effectively networking online is difficult if you do not have any other relationship with the people in that particular network. So forget Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat, but look at some other networks that may help:
Some online networks are perfect for networking like LinkedIN and Execunet. These network sites make it possible to connect with people through others who know them. Also you can actively participate in forum postings and make yourself known that way.
Facebook may have a large overlap with the LIVE groups above and the same for Twitter, although twitter is a great job search tool.
Meetup is a bit of a hybrid as it is an online community but they organize real physical meetings for professionals. Network after work is similar and brings together people who want to network.
Nextdoor is a community with verified neighbors in your community, although you may not know them very well, you know that they are somewhere close and they could give you great tips about jobs in your area.
Next step, cultivate the contacts and ask for a reference:
If you are anything like me you don’t like to ask for help and don’t like to blow your own horn. So networking is a chore and difficult. It is time-consuming, you end up getting lots of information that you really could do without but you need to retain most of it or your network people will get upset that you forgot their great story.
To ease into the networking start with emailing your friends and family (personal and not as a group email) and give them an update on your situation and that you are looking for new opportunities.
Look at the calendars from every organization you are a member of and sign up for any and all the webinars, lunches, meetings, may be a course etc. The more people you meet the more you’ll talk with people the more opportunities you’ll have to sell your elevator speech and leave a card.
Stay for coffee after mass this time and don’t run home for coffee. Introduce yourself to a few people and get familiar with what they do, then add your story.
People generally love it when you ask them about their situation. They will gladly fill you in with sometimes surprising amounts of details. After you have listened for a while you then provide them with a short and sweet version of your elevator speech. Make sure they understand you are looking for something and what that is and ensure they have your contact details.
People that you know better and that you have worked with you can approach and ask them for a reference. They usually would feel flattered and agree to be a reference for you and then you can also bring up in general what you are looking for.
The reference finding process works for you in several ways, so work on your story and start today!