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According to Korn Ferry, 15% of jobs are posted, 5% go through recruiters, and a whopping 80% are found through informal sources. If these percentages are even somewhat accurate, guess what – you’re going to need to be talking to people to find out about what’s going on out there and who’s hiring.

“Networking” gets a bad rap. Just – eeek. Cringe-inducing. Awkward. Pushy. Painful. And it can be, no doubt about it. But make it your own – be curious, be helpful – and see how different it can be. It might even be (dare I suggest?) fun!

And here’s something specific for you to try: the networking question for you to use going forward is “Who do you know…”.

What’s so special about that particular question, you ask? Most of us ask “do you know anyone…?”. Well, we all know lots of people. According to LinkedIn I’m connected to over 850 people. I’ve met quite a few people in a number of different fields. So for me to be most helpful to you please point me somewhere in particular – which is what the “who do you know” question will do for you.

I met someone for coffee last year who emailed me a list of companies she was looking to connect with after our coffee. Which is brilliant – I wish I’d thought of doing that! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help her with any of the organizations on her list but I would highly encourage you to try it out. Keep the list short, of course – you don’t want to wear out your welcome. But specifics are a way of targeting your efforts. Trust me, my first year of formal networking involved the shotgun approach, which was time consuming and not as productive as it might otherwise have been.

Everyone you meet has a network (or a tribe) of their own – and if the people you meet aren’t in a position to help you directly, they are usually more than willing to introduce you to someone in their network who may be able to help. Big reveal here: people like to help. If nothing else you will expand your network and – well, you never know what will come of meeting new people!

And likewise be generous with the members of your tribe. You may know someone who could open a door for someone else. Reciprocity is the name of this game.