I'll start with a few tips on how to maximize your professional network, especially if you are in the middle of a job search!
1) Are you REALLY using LinkedIn?
Most people are NOT using these tools to their full potential. If you are serious about building your network you should be actively connecting to college friends, former colleagues, that guy you met on your last flight home from Aruba and anyone else who you've met that might be a potential lead. Just because someone doesn't work in your industry, doesn't mean they don't know people that might want to hire you. Be proactive, make connections and search through your extended network...I think you'll be surprised how many great people just a connection or two away!
2) Facebook is for kids
Um, no it's not...plenty of recruiters and managers are joining groups and working through their network to find future employees. Join Alumni groups, interest groups and reach out to people work at places that interest you. You've heard of Eric Barker right? Great story of thinking outside of the box and using a tool like Facebook to enhance your search. Full article on Eric is here - http://www.ere.net/2009/05/27/mba-grad-seeks-job-with-microsoft-posts-ad-on-facebook/
3) Follow up with people, especially those who offer to help you network!
I tell almost every candidate I talk to to "keep in touch! If can help you out in the future, let me know." How many people actually follow up? Very few. When someone offers to become a networking contact for you, use them! Connect to them on social networks, keep in touch with them and leverage their network too! Recruiters and other serious networkers may not help you in your search today, but overtime may help you find your next great gig.....trust me on this one.
4) Old-School Press the Flesh Networking is still extremely effective
People think because of the popularity of social networking,they don't need to attend industry events or alumni networking session anymore.....um, WRONG! Technology will never replace the experience of a face to face chat or a shared laugh at a conference. You really have to get out to these events, meet people and then incorporate them into your network. Don't stand against the wall being shy either, everyone is there for a reason...NETWORKING.
5) Keep an open mind
Talk to anyone who might have a job for you. It doesn't matter what that job is, just get out there and talk to people. If nothing else, you can use these conversations and interviews to fine tune your interviewing skills so when you do get an interview for the PERFECT job....you'll be ready to knock that interview out of the park! A wise man once told me, "As long as you have options you'll be ok." He's right, don't close doors before you take the time to make sure it's not the right opportunity for you.
That's it for tonight, I'll try to post more this weekend.....if you like what you read - find me on Linkedin, Twitter, etc and get me into your network!