smart spending

5 networking strategies to a new job

At networking events, try to strike up a conversation with someone standing alone or get yourself into a group of people. Winegardner says that at many events, the facilitator will step in if he sees you floundering. "The organizers are focused on making sure the event is a success," he says.

If working the room isn't for you, Ray recommends working the phones. Make a list of all the people you know and start calling them. Try to get at least two contacts from each one. "You'll start out with a list of 100 and when you're done you'll have 200," says Ray.

Using the Internet to make and keep contacts

LinkedIn.com, the Mountain View, Calif.-based social-networking site that focuses on business connections, Monster.com's community boards and other social networks are just a few of the Web venues you can use to network online and reach a lot of people.

"LinkedIn has a lot of value for job seekers because it lets you connect with a larger number of people very easily, all at once," says Gelberg. She recommends you keep your profile and skills current on LinkedIn and post any accomplishments as you complete them. Send congratulatory notes or make comments when you see someone in your network update their status. That will keep you fresh in their mind, she says.

Monster Worldwide has communities focused on a specific career whether it's nursing or law enforcement. Winegardner recommends using forums like that to connect with other people in those fields. "With these communities you can connect around a profession and around common interests," he says.

Some other job sites include Doostang.com, MeetingWave.com, and Jobster.com.

Connect and reconnect

You've made your contacts but the job didn't immediately materialize, so now what? According to the networking experts, following up and maintaining the relationship is as equally as important as making the connection. That could mean a periodic e-mail, phone call, in-person coffee chat or dropping an interesting article in the mail.

"You can't do all this in-person chitchat and not follow up," says Jones-Kaminski. "You have to do things to cement the relationship."

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