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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Why is networking the key to your next job? It's who you know.

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

networking function

Are you looking for work, or open to a career change? Would you like job offers to come to you?

How do most people find jobs?

According to a survey published on LinkedIn, 85% of people find jobs through people they know. (1)

In my experience, 100% of my job opportunities have been the result of someone who knows me, or knows of me and knows my work, offering me a job. I’ve never filled out a job application. I’ve never even looked for work.

Is my story unusual? Research says no. If it was, the phrase “it’s who you know” wouldn’t be so popular.

My career opportunities came from knowing the right people.

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by the group Registered Dietitian Approved on Facebook Live. This group is comprised of registered dietitian nutritionists, like me, who favor forging a unique career path.

It was fun to discuss my varied jobs and how I came to work in each one. From the doctor who asked me to counsel his patients, which led to creating a private practice, to colleagues in my local dietetic association offering me positions, to my former college department asking me to come back and teach.

Each job resulted from knowing the right person and being open to the opportunity. Smaller “jobs” like professional speaking engagements, grant opportunities, and book writing, also resulted from being known by the right people. “It’s who you know.”

How can you know the “right” people? The answer is simple: networking.

Does the phrase “it’s who you know” conjure up disdain and the stereotype of an incompetent employee hired by their uncle, or the image of sleazy job-seeking tactics?

Does the word networking conjure up the image of passing out business cards and pitching 30-second elevator speeches to as many people as possible?

Instead of those images, get a new vision of networking and allow the phrase “it’s who you know” to have a positive connotation. Because, networking is building and maintaining strong relationships with colleagues through work, professional organizations, and even community and volunteer organizations.

It includes doing good work, serving others, being a resource, going above and beyond to excel at what you do so that when others think, “Who would do this well?” they think of you.

Did you know jobs hunt for people?

A survey by Adler in 2016, found that jobs hunt for people more often than people actively hunt for jobs.

Networking is especially important in filling jobs when people are not actively looking. However, even among those actively looking for jobs, networking is still the number one method that gets someone a job. (1)

According to Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons, “At least 70%, if not 80%, of jobs are not published, yet most people are spending 70 or 80% of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers.” (2) lists networking as the most effective approach to finding new employment. (3)

In addition to finding work, networking provides the best opportunity for finding others for creative collaboration, funding opportunities, and accomplishing common goals.

How does one effectively network?

  1. Recognize that you are essentially always networking. You never know what connection may lead to a job offer or a mutually beneficial project. You are always making an impression so make a good first impression and leave a positive lasting impression.

  2. Seek to build relationships – ask permission to connect, identify common ground, be authentic, and build trust. Show interest in other people.

  3. Seek to give rather than get – become a resource, refer to others, look for how you can help.

  4. Be involved in your professional organization. Take on leadership roles. Participate in events that allow for meeting colleagues in person.

How can you make networking work for you?

Find an opportunity to get involved. Sign up. Show up. Communicate effectively. Be an asset to others. Be remembered – in a positive way. Be the one that others think of when a job opening comes up. After all, it’s who you know.

“Networking remains the No. 1 cause of job attainment.” ~ Hal Lancaster

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