When making a career change, it's not unusual to ask family and friends for advice about possible job openings and business opportunities. Your family and friends are what is known as your warm contact network.
There are times when this network may not be able to give you all the help you need in finding a job. You may need to extend your warm contact network by asking each contact to put you in touch with one or two other people who may have information that you can use. You'll often find that it may be difficult to get your warm contacts to put you in touch with other contacts who don't know you well. Even if they do, it's not always easy getting useful information from these new contacts.
These factors make it difficult to effectively use your contact network. Here are a few tips to help overcome these obstacles and make it easier make a career change using referrals from contacts.
Career Change Tip - Nurture your contacts
Do everything possible to stay close to the people in your warm contact network, even before you need their help. Send notes and emails, keep in touch by phone and suggest an occasional lunch. Show that you're interested in them and offer to help with their business. Nurture your connection with them.
When the time comes that you need help, your contacts will remember you and be more willing to give you help or find other contacts who can help you.
Career Change Tip - Be Courteous
You may not have a close relationship with all of your warm contacts. In this case, a phone call looking for help with a career change may not be appropriate. Decide if sending a note in advance or setting up a lunch meeting would be more effective.
Career Change Tip - Be a Good Listener
Many times a contact will be more than willing to give advice, even when they have scant knowledge about the job are you seeking. Listen politely and with interest to this advice. It may turn out to be valuable in the future. Before asking for referrals, make sure your warm contact has told you everything he or she knows about the career field that you're interested in. Even if the advice they are giving doesn't seem useful, it's impolite to interrupt to ask for referrals to other contacts.
Career Change Tips - Get Two Referrals
Once you have listened to everything your warm contact has to say about your field of interest, ask for at least two additional referrals. Two referrals are a good number to ask for from each warm contact. If one doesn't work out, there will be another one to turn to. If may be inconvenient to your warm contact to ask for more than two referrals. Also, it may give your warm contact the impression that you're relying too much on him or her for your career change. Unless they offer to give you more than two referrals, don't ask.
If your warm contact is unable to give you at least one referral, try to find out the reason. In their answer, you may find some indirect information about your proposed career change. Maybe your warm contact is lacking confidence about your plans. If you feel this is the case, follow up to prove that you are serious about your career change and will not disappoint them if they give you a referral.
However, it may the case that your warm contact doesn't know anyone to refer you to. If this turns out to be true, ask your contact to be on the lookout for opportunities for you. You should also give your contact copies of your resume.
Career Change Tips - Contact Referrals Quickly
Once you have some referrals, pay attention to advice from your warm contacts about how to conduct yourself when communicating with these referrals. Listen carefully for tips about the skills and experience that these referrals are interested in.
Sometimes your warm contacts will call their referrals and let them know something about you. Other time, you will be contacting the referrals directly. After you contact a referral, chances are they will call your warm contact to find out more about you and verify that you are who you say you are. This is nothing to worry about.
The most important thing to remember is to contact the referrals quickly so that they will remember any details they've heard from your warm contact. Also, if your warm contact has let a referral know that you will be calling, they will be anticipating your call and may even have put together a set of questions to ask you. Don't keep them waiting by hesitating to make your contact call.
For more information, here is an excellent article about how to use the internet for networking during your career change: How to Look for Job Opportunities During a Recession
If you keep these tips foremost in your mind, you will be able to benefit from useful referrals from your warm contacts.
Damen Choy Author and Editor http://InstantCareerAdvice.com a career advice website providing free ebooks, articles and software for career advancement, job interviews and resume writing advice. Damen has also written a book about job interview available at Amazon.com. Access the ebook version here at A Better Job Hunting Package.