Making Your Network Work for You

The Chaining Technique

If your network contacts are only one layer deep, you are missing an excellent opportunity to expand your network exponentially. How? By using the same method as successful network marketing—don't just sell your product, sell others on selling your product. Simply put, instead of just updating your contacts as to your situation, ask them to pass on the information to anyone else they feel could potentially help you. You continue to chain from one contact to another as your network continues to expand.

As you regularly keep in touch with your contacts, ask them if there are other people you should be contacting. When they inform you of these people, give them a call directly. This will then expand your network to include second- and third-level contacts as new first-line contacts. When you contact next-level contacts, send them your resume and ask them to please pass your resume along to those who may be able to help you further in your job search. Let them know that you will be getting back in touch with them after a week or two, then contact them to gather in the names of the people to whom they have passed your resume. Start the process over again with each new person and you will have a nearly continuously expanding network of potential contacts. Following this simple chaining technique will grow your network far beyond your immediate circle of contacts.

The Bird Dog Technique

Similar to the Chaining Technique, the Bird Dog Technique is especially well suited for those network contacts who are unable to help you at the first level, yet are willing to put in an extra effort on your behalf. Aunt Mabel would probably be a good example. Ask these network contacts to reach out and do some work for you. It may include contacting the local chamber of commerce. Or doing some library research. Or even some basic phone calls. This technique is especially important if distance is a factor in your job search. If you have a local "bird dog" who can sniff out and track down opportunities for you on your behalf, you will have gained a valuable scout in your job search battle plan.

Bird dogs are most likely to be friends and family members, since it requires asking a personal favor for them to fill this role. Explain what your specific needs are in the early stages of your job search and what they should keep their eyes and ears open for, then ask for their continued assistance as your job search develops. They will usually be more than happy to help (assuming you have been a good friend/neighbor/niece/nephew/etc.), and it will give them an opportunity to provide you with valuable assistance in your job search. But a note of caution: do not use this technique as a crutch to get others to do your work for you. This technique is to be used as an extension to reach into a marketplace that you cannot reach due to personal constraints. So don't abuse the privilege.