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Dear Headhunter,
I have been between jobs for the last seven months. I spent countless, unshaven hours on the Internet searching for the right opening. I have sent many resumes to job sites with no luck. In most cases, I just received an automated computer response. It seems my personal network is exhausted and I’m not sure where to turn next. I received a good severance package, but it runs out in January. I read your columns regularly and your advice always seems sound. What do I do now?

Thanks, S.C. – Pasadena

Dear S.C.,
The next thing to do is to "reverse networking." You ask, "What the heck is reverse networking?" Reverse networking is simply going back to your first jobs and finding contacts you may have lost. The Internet fills approximately 3% of the job openings, while networking fills over 60%. That should tell you where to spend your time. When you connect with a lost contact, ask who they know that might know a person working for one of your targeted companies. Sometimes it’s like peeling an artichoke, removing several layers to get what you want. I have read advice to make contact under the guise of updating your list.

My advice is to be direct, state that you’re between jobs and need help making the right connections. This month’s column is about long-term networking and it should help you build a comprehensive network for the future.

Good luck on your search, George


I can hear the groans already, “Got MILC.” I understand the “got” thing has been used to death, but maybe every time you hear “Got Milk?” you will remember to network. “MILC” stands for Maintain Individual Lifelong Contacts.
As you move forward in your career life, several people will influence the direction and speed of your career. Some big shots, some little. You may mentally dismiss the minor players, but later they may become an important link. You may kiss up to a big shot and never get a payback. Who should you keep in contact with? The answer is to keep track of everyone. You’ll never know who will become your right contact at the right time. There are vendors, buyers, marketing managers, sales managers, etc. Keep in touch with all your old bosses, even if they seem ruffled by your vigor to keep maintaining a relationship. Network continually up and down the company organization.

“Don't wait until you're not working to start networking.” This time worn axiom is so simple that people forget the real power it holds. It's like the “Golden Rule,” simple, but powerful. Networking is an every day process. It isn’t something you stop and start depending on your job status. It is not standing with a drink in one hand and a business card in the other. True networking is adding value to all your relationships. It’s like the saying, “To get a friend, be a friend.” The best networking values the other person’s career goals and willing to help regardless of any paybacks.

If someone has mentored you, you know the feeling of gratitude to that person. You will feel indebted, knowing that their help was instrumental in enhancing your career growth. The saying, "what goes around, comes around" is true. You should be a mentor to as many people as possible. Your mentoring will increase your career value by creating IOU's to cash in later.

“If you snooze, you lose.” Change that to “If you don't schmooze, you lose.” Schmoozing is networking. The payoff of schmoozing is being connected to others who may help you in the future. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, names of spouses and children is connecting at a deeper, more personal level.

Trade shows and conferences are fertile ground for industrial strength schmoozing night and day. Before you attend any of these events, you need to have a plan of action. What company or person should you absolutely meet for the trip to be worth the effort? Make a list of your top three to five contacts. Do your homework on the decision-makers for your targeted companies.

When you attend a conference or industry meeting, passing out a resume is the worst thing you can do. Your networking goals are covert. The people that you meet should not know that you’re only making them a networking contact. You want to be perceived as an active, successful part of your company and industry. Exchange business cards, get e-mail addresses and always follow-up promptly. Trust me; true networking is valuing the other person and building a mutual beneficial relationship.

Do not wait until a crisis to update your contacts. Always get the names and numbers of parents or siblings’ including cell phone numbers. Get personal e-mail addresses because a company e-mail is useless once they leave their company. As I have mentioned frequently in prior columns, networking through personal contacts is the most valuable avenue to finding your next job.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.