When it comes to finding a job, nothing beats good, old-fashioned networking – contacting friends, relatives and former colleagues, setting up face-to-face meetings in the hope of getting job referrals. Yes, it is awkward, but here’s why it simply has to be done: At any given time, about 80% of all available jobs aren’t posted in the classifieds or on job boards, says BH Careers International, a New York career-management firm. And 60% of people surveyed by BH said they got their last job by networking.

Here are 10 great networking tips to help you along the way:

  1. Prepare an “elevator speech” (see our previous blog post).
  2. Use your existing ties. Spread the word that you’re looking for a job and ask if anyone has a contact that might be able to offer advice.
  3. Target trade groups. Don’t waste time at big events – join the dominant trade or industry group in your area.
  4. Show interest in others. Stop focusing on you and what you need – take an interest in the other person. Ask questions and get the contacts talking about themselves and their business experience.
  5. Don’t ask for a job. Instead, seek advice. People are likelier to be more generous with their time if you’re asking for counsel rather than a job.
  6. Build relationships. Strangers won’t put their relationship on the line for you – build ties with new contacts before asking for help.
  7. Don’t be selfish. No matter how desperate you are, remember that networking is a two-way street.
  8. Don’t abuse relationships. 
  9. Follow through. Write a proper thank-you note. Keep people up-to-date on how things went with interviews, meetings, etc.
  10. Maintain your network. Cultivate ties even when you aren’t job hunting.

What tips have you found to be helpful in your own networking experience? Let us know!