>Why you need to network!

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Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...  In my last post, I mentioned that Dave, like others leaving the public sector, doesn’t think networking will be the right thing for him. So today, I am going to write about the value of professional networking.

Everyone has a network of friends and contacts already.  Networks are not about exploiting people, they are about building and maintaining relationships.

In professional networking you are gathering information that may help you in your work, not just your job search.  You never know when you will need these relationships or when your contacts may need you and the information you have in return! Just like personal networks, professional networks are about reciprocal arrangements.  And personal networks and professional networks blend into each other in terms of people offering mutual support.
But let us deal with the issue of networking and job search! 

Most people leaving the UK public sector come from an environment where the rules require all new posts to be advertised.  While it is true that people find ways round the rules, that is expectation.  It is part of the culture.  

People can get very upset if they find a juicy public sector role has been filled without being advertised at least internally across the organization.  But those same people can get very upset if they a key role has been advertised outside the organization without looking first for someone inside the organization. That again is part of the corporate culture.  

In the world outside things are often different. 
As Ian Machan said here recently probably between 30% – 80% of all jobs, never get advertised – the iceberg factor.  If you spend your time just on the advertised vacancies, you have less chance of getting a post because there is far more competition for those roles. 

If you spend at least some time on the hidden, less competitive vacancies, you are raising your chances of success.  

So, it is wise to take a balanced approach, between applying for advertised posts and exploring the “hidden market.
Jobs that don’t get advertised usually get filled in one of three ways:
  • Recruitment Consultants search their files of registered applicants who are suitable candidates
  • Direct approach through networks of personal contacts and head-hunters (who again often rely on their own wide networks of contacts).
  • Previous applicantsunsolicited CVs received or near-miss candidates from previous advertising campaigns.

Small-to-medium-sized organizations (SMEs) may never advertise their jobs nationally – or at all. With far smaller recruitment budgets, these organisations prefer local or specialist publications, recruitment agencies, unsolicited and direct applications or people found through contacts.
In some larger organizations, again not all vacancies are advertised!  This is so particularly in competitive areas such as public relations, journalism or consultancy work. Employers expect applicants to take the initiative.
Some organizations prefer to hire someone we
ll known to contacts as being capable of doing a good job against the risk of an unknown “best” candidate. 

The degree of formality around filling even quite senior posts can vary widely.  This may come as something of a shock to former public sector employees.
Networking is critical in accessing this hidden market. 

There is a huge amount to be gained from developing your contacts in terms of gathering industry knowledge and hearing about these never-advertised positions.
A professional network is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have source of new work, support, advice, ideas and consolation. So, strengthen relationships with people you already know and put some energy into meeting new people.
My next post will deal with your online presence, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the rest—they’re not just for teenagers, they are efficient and effective ways to stay in touch with a whole lot of people and to find new opportunities.

In the mean time if you need advice about networking please get in touch – my contact details are below or you can use the contact form here. 

>Networking Your Way to a Good Future – Part 2 – A Pilot List for Reluctant Networkers

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As I mentioned in Part 1, when you start networking, you will find that most people are generous with both their time and their advice.  If they trust you, they will be prepared to introduce you to others who can help and to give you good advice.

But starting to network can be daunting. So we are going to make a pilot list of people who are both useful and approachable. These will be people you can practice on!

You should have a long list of contacts if you followed the suggestions in Part 1.  Now is the time to go through it and score your candidates out five for
  1.  Accessibility – you can contact them easily and they are located within meeting distance
  2. What they might be able to do for you! I’m afraid you will have to be a bit ruthless here – remember your future is at stake
  3. Their “user friendliness” – how approachable they are.

The scores on the doors

Now you can rank them. 

Put those with a score of  2 or less in categories 1 and 2 above to one side in pile D – these are put on hold for now!

Of those who remain, put those with a score of 2 or less in category 3 in pile C.  However useful they are, it will help to build up some confidence before you approach them.  Unless of course you are an Ace Networker who loves a challenge!

Now add up the scores of those you have left and rank them.  

Within your top ten, do you have five who score 5 in category 3?.  If so put them in pile A.  

If you can’t find five contacts who score 5 then add in the top scorers who scored four in category 3.  

You are looking for five useful people who are also friendly to start your networking activity – Pile A – Your Pilot List.  

The rest go into Pile B.

Make sure you have names, email addresses and telephone numbers for Pile A and Pile B.

I hope the ranking made sense – if not get in touch and I’ll give further guidance.

The message
Now before you make your first phone call or send your first email you n

eed to decide what to say.


People just love being asked for advice. Personally I believe this is best done face to face over coffee, lunch or a drink rather than on the phone.  

So I would start with an email or a phone call to ask for a little of their time.

When you have asked how they are, and reminded them if necessary about how you met, you need an explanation for your call or email! It is a good idea to keep things fairly brief and positive as you can at this stage!  

You can mention being caught up in the cuts if it is appropriate but emphasise that you are focussing on the future rather than the past.  You are seeking their advice and perhaps to find out more about their sector or their organisation and the possibilities. 

You could ask if it is OK to send your CV before the meeting saying that you would welcome thier comments upon it.

When you meet, emphasize your flexibility and openness to opportunity

The project

Use your card index or Microsoft Outlook Contacts to keep a record of your success – who you have rung and what happened.  

You can use the category markers and follow up flags in Microsoft Outlook Contacts to keep track.  

Treat this like a project with a beginning middle and end.

Work through your pilot list.  Keep a record of their comments and remember to send a note of thanks after your meeting.  

Say that you would like to keep in touch and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything interesting.

When you have worked your way through your A List, you should be ready to start on List B.

The next post will deal with networking events and “cold calling” people you do not know. 

But in the mean time I would love to hear how you get on.  And of course please get in touch if you have questions.




Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net or ring ++44(0)7867681439


>Networking Your Way to a Good Future – Part 1 the Mighty List

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Image by HubSpot via Flickr

Many experts believe that many, if not the majority, of jobs don’t get advertised.  

This is certainly true for the private sector, less so in the public sector.  But the likelihood of a job not being advertised seems to increase with the level of the job. 

So the more people who know you, or at least know of you, the more likely you are to be offered a role. 

There is a very good reason to develop and make the most of your contact network.

But unfortunately networking doesn’t always get a good press.  It continues to be associated with selling of the cruder kind.  This is a pity!

Networking can be useful and very enjoyable for all concerned!

If you go into it with an honest approach, determined to offer something of value (you are prepared to develop the relationship and provide help when you can) it is certainly not exploitation.

You will be surprised how willing and pleased people will be to help.

For networking to work well you need to develop a broad list of contacts.  This can include people you’ve met in your private and social as well as your work life.

Don’t forget people you’ve met through social networks over the internet but I’ll deal separately with social  networking in another post. 

Unless you want to invest in specialist software, the easiest way to start your list is with a pen and a large sheet of paper.  Then think in terms of a series of circles; the inner circle being your closest friends and family.  You can draw this if it helps.  Or you could develop a spider diagram, if that appeals to you more.  You then segment each circle (branch) into slices for family, work, hobbies and social life.

Work from inside out – who do you know and who might they know?

Think about people you know now and people you used to know.

You can edit out in the second step – the first step is get as many people down on paper as possible.


In the next step we are going to think about how you are going to use the list. We are going to work out a plan and for that you are going to need a card file or a simple computer data base. I use Microsoft Outlook Contacts.

When you start networking, you will find that might most people are generous with both their time and their advice.  If they trust you, they will be prepared to introduce you to others who can help!
In the mean time if you have any questions please get in touch.  If you have some good tips on how to make the most of your network please share them here.

>6 Networking Mistakes And How to Avoid Them

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High Speed Business Networking Event (Paris, 2...Image via Wikipedia

I am going to be writing quite a lot about networking next week.  But in the mean time just to warm you up, here is an article  from the Harvard Business Review website. It is by Gill Corkindale who is a London Based Execuitve Coach. The link at the bottom will take you to the rest of the article. Incidentally, there is also a useful link in the first paragraph too!
“If you’ve been laid off in recent months, you’re in excellent company. Plenty of qualified and experienced managers are now having to develop strategies to find their next job.

But where to start? If you were my coaching client, I would simply say: network, network, network.

And yet among my clients, networking is often an underdeveloped skill. Take Jerry, a 40-year-old business development manager in a financial services firm. His role is to build the business in Europe, so he has to make industry contacts, speak at conferences and look for new client relationships. He is now at a point in his career where he has to build internal networks, but instead of recognising that he is already a master networker, the very mention of the word makes him shudder. Why? Because in his mind, networking is associated with self-promotion, politics and inappropriate favours.
In truth, networking is a critical skill for managers and leaders: your network supports and sustains you in the good times, but is the key to your survival in the bad times.
And yet networking is difficult, even daunting, for managers who have no problem simply chatting to people. It doesn’t need to be so stressful. Here are some common mistakes people make when networking — and how to avoid them:……”.
More at this link