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A network is a group of people you have, or have had, a relationship with having worked together, gone to school together, been neighbors, friends or family.

How does one grow a network? Before the advent of Social Media, e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., the idea of reaching out to someone you went to school or worked with decades before, with no contact since, would have seemed strange and impossible. But now, anyone you come across on these sites with many Friends or Connections is in effect advertising that they welcome hearing from everyone they know – that’s how they built up so many Friends or Connections – by welcoming those who approached them. So you can generally be confident they will be welcoming to you. I recently did this with two friends I made my freshman year of college and though one responded quickly and the other more slowly, both were genuinely interested in getting caught up after 40 years and were proud to tell me of their children and grandchildren.

How does one maintain a network? Maintaining a network requires periodically reaching out in a variety of ways depending on the closeness of the relationship. To keep in touch with my entire network, I use Plaxo. I invite my entire network to use it and since Plaxo requests birthdates, everyone hears from me at least once per year – on their birthday! I always get a nice thank you note in response. If you are able to, post a discussion, link an article or write a blog and use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate to your network which is a great way to use Social Media to maintain your network. Another electronic way is to collect articles of interest to your network and do an email once a quarter distributing the article with a simple note, “Thought you would find this interesting. Best, Mark”. For the closest members of my network, meeting regularly – once per month or quarter – for lunch or dinner – is a great way to enjoy their company and stay in touch.

How does one utilize a network? With an active, well-maintained network, one seeks information and referrals to those you want to reach. In my personal life, this is how I found my barber, urologist, attorney, plumber, etc. My friend was happy to recommend his barber and the barber was thrilled to be recommended providing me his best service versus someone calling from the Yellow Pages. This same network is where I go to reach decision-makers for business development purposes, to recruit executives, and, of course, to conduct a job search. A network is a source of referrals starting with who you know … to whom they know … until you reach the appropriate decision-maker. Each person on the way is doing you a favor, not because of who you are but because you are using the name of someone they like. The more they like that person, the more they are inclined to do for you – even though you do not know that person!

ExecuJobs is at the forefront of guiding its clients to maximize Networking to find their next opportunity as research indicate indicates it is the primary method for finding executive opportunities. And Social Media is the primary way to network in 2011.

For over 20 years, the leadership of ExecuJobs, a premier executive career search marketing firm, has assisted clients to successfully meet the challenges of a competitive marketplace and significantly shorten the average job search. Contact ExecuJobs today by calling ExecuJobs Customer Care @ 800.767.0691 or completing an online form at www.execujobs.net/contact.

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