After a workshop I led, an attendee connected to me via LinkedIn. Shortly thereafter, she asked me for an introduction to a few of my contacts. I recommended that she find connections who might know her work better than I. She then responded with a very good question that I bet is on the minds of many: a lot of the advice out there promotes networking as a way to access those jobs and companies you want, but as you meet more and more people how do you know when it’s okay to ask for referrals?
Kudos to this jobseeker for a number of things:
1) She expands her network. We connected (as it happened via LinkedIn but you can also use email or other social network);
2) She stays in touch. Some people stop after one contact;
3) She doesn’t stop at No. She didn’t push back on my hesitation for a referral but she did ask for more information (she asked why). So while she didn’t get exactly what she asked for, she got more information and that will help her search.
You can’t expand your network if you always only focus on people you already know. You have to take a chance, like this person did, and reach out to people. Attend social events, go to conferences, take classes, participate in community activities, and then actually reach out to the people you meet.