Need a job? You need to network. Have a job and want to keep it? You need to network. Networking should be a career-long endeavor that is just as important as performing your job in an excellent manner. Here's why. First, if we have learned anything over the past four years, it's that job security does not exist - if it ever did. One big economic downturn - or any number of other variables you cannot control - and you could find yourself sending out resumes and hoping for a call.

Once you get that job, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Career success is often found by moving up, and if you've been in the business world long enough, you know that the person most deserving of the promotion does not always get it. Sometimes, it's the "schmoozer."

If you have never been one to hob-nob, now might be a good time to learn that skill. If you're looking for a job, networking is the single best way to land a position. It's not an overnight fix, but it definitely beats sitting at your computer and sending out resumes that may or may not be seen by a human. How do you network? Here's how to get started.

What Networking Is (and Isn't)
If you think of networking as learning to be the local brown-nose or that cheesy person who sounds about as genuine as a TV game show host, you have the wrong idea. Networking is all about building genuine relationships. It is about taking an interest in somebody else, and it's about giving as much as you get.

Think about your own life. Can you tell when somebody genuinely wants to get to know you and when he or she just wants something? People will know your intentions, too, so if you've been against networking because you thought it involved being fake, that's the type of networking you should avoid because it doesn't work anyway.

Target Your Time and Effort
You want your relationships to be genuine, but when you're looking to build a professional network, concentrate on people that are like you. If you're looking for a professional position in a Fortune 500 company, try to form relationships with those types of people.

Do not, however, count out people outside of your profession. Just because you are an information technology manager does not mean you should ignore the person who owns a dry cleaning business. How many professionals is he or she in contact with each day and how many stories does he or her hear about job openings?

Become Community Minded
Don't know where to meet people? Volunteer your time. Volunteer at your church, at charity events such as 5Ks, fundraisers, your child's school or other events. Become involved in local foundations and offer to speak to community groups on topics related to your expertise. Finally, don't wait to be asked. Offer your talents for the good of others. People will see your work ethic and the way you interact with other people. They'll then feel comfortable recommending you for a job in their circle of influence when one becomes available.

Don't Try to Virtual Network
Once you meet somebody, locate him or her on Facebook or LinkedIn and email or send a text message. Even in the 21st century, people like to get to know each other face to face. Sending out random emails trying to form relationships is a fruitless effort. Attend a party and have a friend introduce you to others. The old-fashioned way still works best.

Learn from that Schmoozer
The schmoozer might be a little over the top for your taste, but you can learn from him or her. Notice that people who are good at talking to others know that using (and remembering) a person's name is vitally important.

They also know that asking the person about himself or herself is a great way to talk less and learn more. The schmoozer also knows to avoid controversial topics such as politics, religion and the goings on of the local NFL team. It's all about being positive, confident and caring.

Follow Up
Once you make a connection with someone, follow up. Call, email or find that person on social media sites and ask if he or she would like to get together for coffee or lunch. Follow up with the intent of adding just as much value to that person's life as he or she would add to yours.

The Bottom Line
If you're still trying to find a job through an online portal, know that, on average, just around 12.3% of hiring outside of a company's walls comes from these online job portals. Furthermore, that percentage is spread across a number of different portals, meaning that very few jobs are filled through individual sites such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder. Instead, take a step back to the 20th century, get out into the world and meet people. Join groups, attend events, volunteer your time and do all of it because of your sincere desire to give as much as you get. It won't happen overnight, but meeting people is the best way to land your next job.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  2. Professionals

    Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?

    Both brokers and traders buy and sell securities, but there are some subtle differences between the two careers.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Top 5 Reasons Why People Go Bankrupt

    The biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses.
  4. Professionals

    Financial Career Options For Professionals

    A career in finance can take a business professional down many different paths.
  5. FA

    The Basics of The Series 79 Exam

    Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.
  6. Professionals

    10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds

    The first step to getting your hedge fund career started is to be sure you really want to work for a hedge fund. If you do, it’ll show in your actions.
  7. Professionals

    Business Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn the different types of business analyst careers available; understand the skills and education needed and the salary you can expect to make.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    How To Make Money With Domain Names

    Domain names are hot commodities in today’s tech-centric world, and for good reason.
  9. Professionals

    How To Get A Job On Wall Street

    Although Wall Street has its share of problems, finding people who want to become traders isn’t one of them.
  10. Professionals

    Financial Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Understand the types of career paths you can take as a financial analyst, and learn the education and skills you need to launch a career in this field.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do you protect yourself against sudden unemployment?

    Sudden unemployment can wreak financial havoc, and the strain it puts on your finances may force you into taking a new job ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

    As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  2. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  3. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  4. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  5. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
Trading Center