The underlying premise of networking is similar to starting your own company. You become the CEO and the vice president of sales. You have a marketable product (your skills and abilities) because they have been successful in the past. You set the geographical constraints of where you want your next job to be located (East Coast, U.S., international, etc.).
What you don’t have is a personal sales force (people who will help you move your campaign forward) to help you to identify potential leads and opportunities; since outplacement industry statistics indicate there is an 80+ percent chance you will land your next job through networking, it’s a very important component of your success. Consequently, you need to develop the largest sales force in the most efficient and timely manner. This sales force will generate the leads to connect you with potential bosses, job interviews, and ultimately your next job. Tangential benefits of networking will be a larger set of relationships and valuable industry knowledge.
There are several factors that differentiate your network sales force from that of a company’s dedicated sales team. First, the good news; your network sales force only needs to recognize a potential lead and communicate the lead back to you for follow-up. That means each network salesperson only needs to know what is on your résumé (education, work experience and personal interests) and not more personal information (e.g., you were the smartest person in your elementary school.)
Now, the bad news; the members of the network sales force have regular jobs. Each person, therefore, is helping you on a part-time basis. This means that any sales meeting or update on your campaign will have to be on a one-on-one basis, since it will not be possible to call everyone together. Furthermore, experience in networking indicates that you must be in contact with each person in your network sales force at least once per month or they will forget about you and your need for help.