Give it to them straight. Call them (or visit in person), let them know your background and that you are currently searching for a job as a _____ (your Ten Second Sound Bite). Then ask them if they will help by being part of your personal network, and ask if you can send your resume to them for their advice and input. After they receive the resume, call back to ask for their advice regarding your resume and any recommendations they may have with regard to potential employer contacts. Then utilize some of the techniques in this section to strengthen and expand your network of contacts.
This is an unusual revelation, I must admit. But just saying the magic word "network" when you talk to potential network contacts takes the conversation (and the productivity of the contact) to a much higher level. I realize it seems rather trivial, so let me explain why this happens.
When you are speaking with potential network contacts, no matter how you state your case, it sounds one-sided (your-sided) and of no benefit to them. But the moment you mention the magic word—"I would like to include you in my network of contacts" or "I would like to network with you"—you have brought the conversation to a new level. Just watch the reaction. All of a sudden, they perk up and become quite attentive to your needs. Why does this happen? Because we have been trained professionally to network with everyone and everything; yet we often do not recognize networking unless the actual word is used.
I know that sounds belittling to the average intellect in the professional marketplace, but it is reality. "Oh, you want to network with me!" is the typical response—we fail to understand the request until the actual word is used. Summary: when you want to network with someone, always make sure you lead with that magic word.
And remember that proper networking works in both directions. Even though you may be the one requesting help now, you should be willing to equally help others in the future.