Week 5: Women and SET – Finding support – networking (I)

Networking has been defined as:

“the building and nurturing of personal and professional relationships to create a system or chain of information, contacts and support”

On the basis that up to 70% of jobs are never advertised, your network can be one of your most valuable resources when you are jobseeking.

I have investigated my own networks in the past: the advice is usually to start with your area of ‘need’ in the middle of the page, and then note down all the people or organisations you have links to who might be able to help.

The OU adds a refinement to this:

  • Next to each name, draw a line and make this into a scale of 0 to 10 by noting the numbers 0 and 10 at each end of your line (0s should be in the centre of your diagram and 10s round the edge).
  • Now, for each person, place an X on this scale of 0–10 (where 0 = highly unlikely and 10 = extremely likely) at the point which you believe reflects that person’s willingness to help you, or the likelihood that they will give you the support you need.
  • Join up all the Xs, and look at the space that you have created around your problem. This space represents an area of opportunity and resource that you can tap into. Look at areas where there is little space around your problem. This is where your personal support network is weak.
  • Think about any weak parts of your personal support network and how you might strengthen them. Write a short list of actions that will help you to strengthen your contacts. Your actions might include making a phone call, attending a meeting, or offering to help someone else out.

T160 course notes, the Open University, 2007

Networking is a vital resource, but it needs to be two-way: if you network only for what you can get, your network will shut you out very quickly indeed.

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