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ask a career coach

The question:

I'm starting to think about looking for a new position. There is a lot of information out there, saying how important it is to use your networks to find a new position. How do you make use of these networks (contacts, social networking sites such as LinkedIn) when often your current colleagues are part of those networks? Is there a way to approach a job search in a way so as to not rouse suspicions and make it obvious that I'm looking for a new role? And how do I handle it if someone suspects I am looking to leave?

The answer:

Wise individuals should always be open to exploring new career opportunities. Do not be concerned about what others might think if you are looking for them. It does not mean that you are looking to leave your current position right away. Your boss and colleagues are most likely looking for new opportunities themselves.

Networking is essential in locating a new position. This includes face-to-face networking as well as social networking on line. Remember that face-to-face networking is the most effective form of building relationships and landing a new job. Most positions are filled through contacts and connections as opposed to through advertising.

Get clear on what type of new position or career that you are interested in pursuing. Figure out whether you want a new position in your existing company or organization or whether you want a new position in another industry, company or organization. This will help focus your networking efforts. You will want to use your internal network regardless of where you are looking because your network within the company will know about outside opportunities as well.

Find out where the key officials where you want to work hang out – e.g. professional, business, and social networks. Find out what events, meetings or activities offered by these networks and attend these events – preferably, in person, or online through teleconferences, webinars, etc. Join online social and business networking groups. Keep your profile updated.

Engage in conversations with new people you meet at the networking events. Collect business cards and contact information. Follow up with these contacts after the events and indicate how you enjoyed meeting them and suggest getting together for coffee or lunch. You want to build relationships with these new contacts. Remember it usually takes about seven contacts in order to land new business or the position that you desire.

Develop a blog and add all your contacts from all your networks to your blog and/or online newsletter list databases. Keep your network up to date on your activities in your current job, your profession, etc.

Offer to give presentations to your different networks , business, social, professional, both in person and online. Choose topics that you are familiar with and can impart information to others in these groups. Develop handouts of the key information from your presentation – including your contact information – and distribute them to meeting attendees or send them to people who ask for them after the event.

Visibility is key. You want to be visible and heard in your face-to-face and online networks. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online social networks to let people know what you are doing professionally )e.g. what meetings you are attending, what great business books you are reading, what presentations you are giving, etc.).

You want people in your networks to want to get to know more about you and to be looking out for opportunities for you in their companies or other companies or organizations. Remember to continue to keep in touch with and continue to build your networks as they will likely be the stepping stone to your next position.

Bruce Sandy is Principal of Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting and

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