"Networking" May Keep You Out of the Door

I have not read a single career guidance article, tutorial, blog post or seen a television reporter that has not pitched the value of "networking" in the last couple of months. Now, with unemployment approaching record levels, it seems that any person that has an outlet to write ideas or has a camera in front of them is going to tell you how to land the next great job. It does not matter what their background or what industry they come from, or the fact that they themselves have never had to go through a job search, but each media "expert" is going to tell you the same basic principals for finding your next career and "networking" is at the top of their list.

At this point, "networking" is pretty obvious advice and I am getting tired of hearing about it. And I am definitely not going to turn this blog post into an article about how to find your next job, there are PLENTY of those articles out there!

Unfortunately, for many people, networking seems to be a new concept. And their idea of networking is a bit construed. Evidentially, the media has now made people believe that "networking" means getting in touch with every single person you have ever heard of in your life and bombard them with your resume and your story. And don't just do it once. Those articles tell you to be persistent. That's right, call the person every single day!

Now don't get me wrong, if I were to lose my job suddenly, I would be contacting every single person that I thought could help me out. The key is though, I would be contacting people that I know a little bit better than once exchanging a single email with 6 years ago, or that engineer whom I asked where to get a good steak while I was visiting a foundry in Alabama 12 years ago (I actually had someone call me that tried to explain this one to me, he thought we were still "colleagues").

However, the modern form of "networking" seems to take that a bit further. Now we have phones, emails, facebooks, myspaces, LinkedIn's, text messages, and even cheap gas. Yes, we have even had to turn people away who literally walk in our front door. I think the trend of Networking, or at very least the term "Networking" is quickly going to lose its luster this year. Aside from utterly being bombarded with network requests, many people will want to keep any knowledge they have about a job close to the chest, in case they need it themselves. That person that knows someone who knows someone who dated the sister of someone that worked with my cousin is not going to get special treatment, especially when I have dozens of more qualified resumes sitting on my desk and the pile is growing every day.

Now, I am not saying to give up. And I am not saying to not be persistent. In fact, I would encourage everyone to do everything in their power to make sure you provide a roof over you and your family's head. However, when you call me, and I don’t know who you are, or I tell you that I will do my best, but do not know anyone that is hiring, I am not lying! So please, do NOT call me every day. Do NOT call my cell because you found the number in an old email.

Trust me, I will do what I can for people, when I can. But, keep in mind you are not the only people out there, and I just don't know any places that are hiring that you are a good fit for. That's another key component. Part of "Networking" is asking someone to stick their neck out there for you when they make a recommendation in you. Please be respectful of the fact that most people will not put their neck out there for just anyone, so sometimes you must accept "not right now" as the answer. Check back in three or four weeks, I don't mind that level of persistence.

In 2009, I would say that the trend of "Networking" is going to be looked at as a negative thing.

Part of the Anti-Trends for 2009 Cross-Blog Challenge:

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