C-Level: Chief People Officer
Capability: Training & Development

Service Offering: Career Development

90% of all career opportunities are only accessible through networking!




An estimated 10% of all career opportunities are published and publicly accessible, such as in the newspaper, on a corporate web-site, posted on a job board, etc. Given this reality, you need a way to access the knowledge of those you know.

Here is a simple, step-by-step plan to professionally and respectfully harvest value from your network – both personal and professional.

Step 1 – Make a Complete List of Your Contacts
Step 2 – Decide to Ask For: Information, Assistance or Introductions
Step 3 – Harvest Contributions through Personal Communication

Here’s the detailed plan so you can begin immediately.

Step 1 – Assemble a Complete List of Contacts
The first step in your opportunity search is to assemble a complete list of your contacts. Your LinkedIn connections are a great place to start. However, regardless of how many direct connections you have, it is likely a sub-set of all your contacts. Contacts also include:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Industry Colleagues
  • Current Co-Workers
  • Former Co-Workers
  • Personal Vendors
  • Your Company’s Vendors
  • Your Company’s Customers
  • Neighbors
  • Community Acquaintances
  • And all the additional categories you can think of

Step 2 – Determine What to Ask For from Each Contact
Identify one or two valuable contributions you should ask for from each person. These “contributions” will assist you in maximizing your search efforts in a wide variety of ways. If you identify one or two contributions to ask for from each person BEFORE you begin your networking, you will achieve several immediate benefits. You will,

  • Create an organized and powerful networking game plan
  • Keep moving in a conversation by always knowing what to say or ask
  • Ensure conversations are moving you closer toward achieving your goal
  • Gain valuable contributions from each person because you identified it in advance,
  • Speak with significantly more people because you will realize you target everyone
  • Increase your contacts, resulting in exposure to exponentially more opportunities

Step 3 – Harvest Contributions through Personal Communication
Generally, the contributions people will make to your career search effort will fall into one of three categories:

  • Valuable information
  • Practical assistance
  • Additional networking opportunities

Valuable information broadens your subject knowledge, makes you more conversant on specific issues, assists you in decision making and enables you to more effectively navigate toward a specific career choice. Examples of Valuable Information and things you should consider as potential contributions include,

  • Open positions internal to their company: published or unpublished positions
  • Open positions external to their company, with professional peers
  • Growth trends internal to their company or external to their company
  • Pending contract awards inside or outside their company or with professional peers
  • Industry specific news: new product or service/new technology/merger trends
  • Industry specific news: litigation/downsizing/policy/regulatory impacts/competition
  • And on and on…

Practical Assistance can take many forms including editing your resume, forwarding you a list of opportunities, writing a reference letter, Endorsements on LinkedIn, a Recommendation on LinkedIn, interview role-playing, etc. The list is endless. Examples of Practical Assistance include,

  • Professional review of your resume from a leadership perspective, from a recruiting perspective, from a peer perspective
  • Professional review of your handicaps (accomplishments, achievements, experience, certifications, skills, abilities, etc.)
  • Grammatical or editorial review of your resume
  • Approval to be personal reference, a professional reference
  • Author of a letter of reference
  • How else? You add some of your own…

Seeking additional introductions is the most valuable component of your plan and the most often over looked in any search effort. Why is it the most valuable? Simple math: you may only know 100 people; but, if each of them knows 10 people, 1,000 new friends are only an introduction away. You can already see the power of the numbers in your LinkedIn 2nd degree connections. But remember, your network is much larger. Therefore, “Who do you know who…?” becomes the most important question. Equally important is the question, “Who else do you know who…?”

Remember that networking also includes exploring opportunities WITHIN your current company. Consider that all the items on the list above can be contributions to seek from people where you work now, including peers, managers and leaders on your project, on other projects, in other departments, at other locations, etc.

Now Take Action
Build your list of personal AND professional contacts (including peers, co-workers, former co-workers, family, etc.). Don’t worry if your list is complete or not; you can always add to it.

Assign the most valuable and appropriate contribution to each person based on 1) your relationship with them, 2) their professional position and 3) their background and experience.

Finally and most importantly, do not make the mistake of underestimating who they know. Chances are you’ll find your next opportunity long before you get through your ever-widening list of contacts! The saying is true, “People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.” So, get to work to find your ideal opportunity using your networking plan!



Mark Galvan is the Talent Acquisition Practice Lead, Chief Innovator and Founder of P4S Consulting which is globally headquartered in Dallas, Texas USA.

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