October 26, 2010, 9:58 PM — One of the reasons you may not like to network is because, in asking others for help with a job search, you feel you're imposing on your contacts (and their contacts). But viewing networking as an imposition demonstrates several common misconceptions about the practice: that only one person benefits from the exchange; that job seekers have nothing to give to the people with whom they're networking; and that the people being contacted don't want to meet or see the job seeker.
In fact, says Ford Myers, president of career coaching firm Career Potential, just the opposite is true. The benefits of networking often extend to all parties involved. Networking meetings and phone calls can be as beneficial for the contact as they are for the job seeker, says Myers.
"When done properly, networking is not about taking but giving," he says.
In his book, Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring (Wiley 2009), Myers seeks to allay the concerns and clear up the misconceptions of reluctant networkers. He shares seven reasons why people want to network with you.
1. Your contacts want to learn from your approach to networking. People with whom you want to network may secretly be searching for a new job, and they may be just as nervous about requesting networking meetings and phone calls as you are, Myers notes. By agreeing to meet with you, your contacts see how you initiate and conduct these important conversations.
2. Your contacts want to pick your brain. If you're out and about networking, you're likely talking to a lot of people and learning about specific companies and industries, says Myers. In fact, you may be privy to insider information to which someone who's employed might not have access, he adds. Your contacts realize that because you're talking to so many people, you might have information about their industry or competitors that would be useful to them.
3. Your contacts want to help you. Imagine that! Helping others gives many people a tremendous amount of satisfaction, says Myers. Some do it completely selflessly, others do it hoping that the good karma will come back to them. Whatever their motivation, it's good for you.