Tapping into your personal and professional networks, our weekly column from various newspapers around Ireland

Q: I read a great deal about ‘tapping into your personal and professional networks.’ I know what that means – but I don’t know how to go about it. Can you give me some pointers? I am heavily involved in a number of community and sporting organisations, and I have worked for more or less the last 25 years, but I really don’t know how I might go about ‘tapping into’ the people I have got to know along the way. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. (Tony J, email)

A: Yes, it can all sound a little vague, and here I will try to give you one concrete tip you can carry out straightaway. Of course, you may wish to modify this to suit your exact situation, but I think it offers a good outline.

Write a very specific letter or email to people in your personal and professional networks outlining who you are, how you know them, why you’re contacting them, what they can do to help you, your gratitude at their taking the time to read this correspondence.

A sample letter might be:

“Dear Mary,

Tony here, your fellow chorister. This time I am not concerned with those impossible high notes, but rather I would just like to let you know that I am currently on the search for work.

I know that you know many people in this part of the world, and so if you happened to hear of anyone looking for a truck driver, or any similar driving or delivery job, I’d appreciate if you would bear me in mind.

Even an introduction would be great – I realise the onus is on me to prove my worth. But if you happened to get a chance to open a door for me, I would be most grateful.

My contact details are contained below, and I have also attached my CV in case you wanted to forward it on to anyone who might be looking for somebody with my skills and experience.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and I will see you on Saturday night again when those high notes will hopefully prove more attainable.

Kind regards,

Tony J”

Things to note about the above letter:

  • It’s short and sweet – it doesn’t ask Mary to read reams.
  • It avoids any sense of desperation – contacts will find it easier to recommend you if you exhibit optimism, or, at worst, if you avoid sounding like you’re nerves are frayed to pieces.
  • It’s specific. It doesn’t say “available for any type of work.” That would Mary to become a talent-spotter for you. Tell her what you can do, and leave it at that. If you have a number of skills, you can alert different members of your personal and professional networks to those.
  • It lets Mary know you don’t expect her to actually get the job for you Mary needs to feel her involvement is minimal, and that you’re not likely to become a nuisance if she tries to help you out.

An approach like that could pay dividends, even if only to get your foot in the door. Systematically contact people you know in this manner. Will it work? No-one knows for sure: but given that many jobs are filled by word-of-mouth, recommendations and referrals, it certainly puts you in the right place to capitalise on possible openings.

Resource material to help you build your Professional and Personal Networks, and to put them to good use for you:

Personal Network
Professional Network

Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free ebook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing getthatjob@slinuacarers.com with Job Searching Ebook in the subject line. More: www.slinuacareers.com