What to ask for when networking

Ask for advice, not a job!

Networking can be a complex process for many people! There are different aspects to it and all of them require thought. Starting with a clear objective is important – knowing exactly why you are doing it and what you want to get out of it provides direction and motivation. Knowing who to connect with or meet is also important – otherwise you could end up with hundreds of contacts who can’t help you with your objectives. Knowing how to get connected to or meet the people who can help you in your job search is another important part of networking. These aspects of networking have been dealt with in previous articles on this website.

The question of what to say to people or ask of them once connected is frequently asked. This question typically arises when new networkers hear that the golden rule of networking is not to ask for a job. Asking people you have just met or been connected to for a job can create awkwardness, especially if they don’t have a job for you. Asking for a job directly scares people off and can create a ‘cul de sac’ or dead-end for you. So what do you ask of them instead?

Assuming your objective was to connect with people who are in a position to offer you the type of job you are seeking (or at least to connect with people who know these people and could connect you or introduce you to them), then what you ask for is advice or information. Asking someone for advice is non-threatening – it doesn’t create awkwardness – and frequently strokes the person’s ego as it shows respect and admiration. People ask advice from people whose opinions they believe matter, and when asked for advice, it’s natural for the person asked to assume that the person asking admires or respects them. They therefore are likely to agree to help!

The advice to ask for is about your career or about your job search. Tell the person that they have taken the career path you wish to pursue and that you wish to discuss with them the best way forward for you in your pursuit. You are merely asking for career advice.

Or you might again say something flattering about their position or career to-date, and on that basis you are seeking information or advice on the best way to achieve your career goal (i.e. get that job!). As long as you are not asking them directly for a job, they are likely to agree to meet you or get involved in an e-mail exchange. Meeting face-to-face is the most effective way of doing this, and asking for just fifteen to twenty minutes of their time shouldn’t be too much. Always end such discussions by asking them who else might be able to help you.

Even without asking for a job there is much to be gained from such an encounter. You meet them, discuss your career and job search, and they might actually have a vacancy for you! If they don’t, you will have gained valuable knowledge about your career or job search, and they may refer you to someone else who might have a job vacancy or who can introduce you to someone else who might. No matter what the outcome, it’s a positive one for you.

To back up your position that you are not there to ask for a job, do not bring a copy of your resume with you! If asked, tell them that you are there for advice and information so didn’t bring a resume with you, but that you will send it to them shortly afterwards.

This type of meeting (it’s called informational interviewing) is not difficult to conduct, and consistently produces positive outcomes.

Make Networking an Integral Part of Your Job Search

Be ‘strategic’ when networking

Using Job Boards

Some people rely only on job boards when searching for a new job, but using job boards has a low success rate. They also involve the greatest competition – there are thousands of others using the same job boards and many of them are looking for a job similar to the one you are searching for.

Using Employment Agencies and Recruiters

Others use employment agencies where recruiters try to match suitable candidates to a job that a company asked them to fill to – the recruiter gets paid by the hiring company when the position is filled. So the recruiter searches their own database for suitable candidates – this database is of people who have contacted that employment agency in search of a job. If that doesn’t produce a few candidates, the recruiter will look for more by advertising the position on job boards (where the competition for jobs is severe), and also by searching relevant LinkedIn profiles.

Of course, many job hunters use both approaches, and that increases their chances of success. However, in job searching, many jobs are actually filled through word-of-mouth where a hiring manager asks their contacts if they know of a suitable candidate. If they don’t know of someone, they will ask their own contacts, and so on. This is called networking.

Many Jobs Are Filled Through Networking

Networking is how many jobs in Singapore are filled. It also happens online, especially through LinkedIn, where a hiring manager asks their ‘contacts’ (i.e. all those they have connected with on LinkedIn or Twitter or other social media sites) if they know of someone who might be suitable for a vacant position they have. The process also works in the opposite direction where job seekers ask their contacts for help in their job search.

However, many people don’t know how to network – they merely connect with a wide range of people and end up with lots of ‘connections’ that they either don’t follow through with or are of no use to them in their job search. Knowing many people who are interested in flying drones won’t link you up with a hiring manager who is looking for a marketing executive – except by coincidence of course!

Network ‘Strategically’

To use networking productively, whether it be face-to-face or online networking, it must be done strategically – in other words, it requires a specific purpose and a plan to achieve it. Obviously the ‘purpose’ is to find a suitable job, and the plan should involve identifying all those people who are in a position to offer you the kind of job you are looking for. That is the starting point – identifying people who might have the type of job you are looking for. Then you need to identify where these people ‘hang out’ – what forums are they members of or what association meetings do they attend? These are the places a job hunter needs to ‘hang out’ also.

This can be brought a stage further by identifying the people who know or are connected to the people who can hire you for your targeted job. Where do they ‘hang out’? This is where the job hunter needs to spend their time networking. There is no point in meeting lots of nice or interesting people when networking if they are not in a position to help you in your job search. The time to meet interesting people is when you have a job, but when you are in job search mode, you must be ‘strategic’ in your networking – look for and connect with those who can help you.

Should you keep your LinkedIn profile General or Focused when job hunting

Decide whether to keep your LinkedIn profile focused or general

To be effective, a resume must be focused on the specific requirements of that one job in that particular company. When applying for different jobs, you send (or should send!) differently focused resumes for each position applied for. A LinkedIn profile on the other hand has a potentially much wider audience – and you cannot have (or shouldn’t have!) different profiles for different audiences.

A question arises then, particularly during job hunting, as to whether you should have a general LinkedIn profile, or to focus your profile on your specific target job (i.e. the position you want to secure).

When you are clearly focused in your job search and have a specific job target in mind, a LinkedIn profile focused on that job is the way to go. Your LinkedIn profile will be more consistent with your focused resume, and searches from hiring managers or recruiters related to your job target are more likely to lead to you. So, for people who are searching for a new job, a focused LinkedIn profile is recommended.

However, keeping your profile general will have it look different to your resume and may be more appealing – you can ‘play’ with it more and make it more personal – more ‘you’. Being general, it will attract or match to a wider set of jobs in searches, leaving you open to a wider set of opportunities.

But if it is too general, your profile might not sufficiently match the keywords hiring managers or recruiters might be using in searches – the keywords they use are related to the key requirements for the job they wish to fill. You might end up with a prettier or more attractive profile, but it won’t be particularly useful to your job search if it doesn’t lead to ‘hits’ in job searches or tells recruiters and hiring managers that you have the skills that match their job vacancy.

The other issue in whether your LinkedIn profile should be general or focused is about what your current employer sees! If your profile is very specific or focused on a particular job, and that job is different to the one you are in now, your employer will know that you are looking for a new job. Remember that LinkedIn informs all of your contacts that you have updated your profile, and if you are ‘connected’ to your manager or others in your company, they will see your new profile and status.

If this is not an issue and won’t cause you problems, then go with a focused profile as it will achieve better results when job hunting.

If it is an issue and you don’t want your boss to know you are ‘available’ to the job market, keep your LinkedIn profile more general, but a little focused too – you want searches to lead to you for the jobs you want. The way to do this is to ensure that your profile’s Headline and Summary contain the keywords that match the type of jobs you want. Of course, there will need to be some emphasis on your current role so that your profile seems informative of your current situation and therefore less like you are looking for a new job. This dual approach is ambiguous and will serve both your purposes of looking for a new job while not alerting your boss about what you are doing!

The starting point for networking is knowing exactly why you are doing it and specifically what you want to get out of it.

 

People network for many different reasons and most have more than one purpose. Some of the more commonly cited reasons include finding new opportunities, finding a job, help with career, building your reputation, raising your profile, making new contacts (especially sales contacts), finding a mentor (or someone to give advice and/or support), etc.

Whatever your reason, you need to be very clear about it and what you want to get out of networking. Knowing exactly why you are networking is important from three perspectives.

Firstly, it provides direction and focus for your networking. Most people’s networking efforts concentrate on collecting contacts – building the number of connections. But in networking, quality is far more important than quantity. Having hundreds of people in your network is pointless unless they can help you achieve your objectives, whereas having just a handful of people who can help you get what you are looking for will.

For example, a network of family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, former classmates, etc, can easily contain over a hundred people. If your objective in networking is to have a support network, then this would be an excellent network. However, if you are looking for a job as a trader in a bank, then unless one of these people can introduce you to a person in a bank who employs traders, they offer no value to you.

So you need to ensure that the people you are trying to attract to your network are people who can help you achieve your objectives. This will also provide focus as to where you should expend your networking efforts. Where do the people who could help you ‘hang out’? Do they go to certain events? Do they participate in particular forums on the internet? Do they blog or use Twitter? Wherever they ‘hang out’, you should too!

The second perspective in knowing what you want from networking – and the benefits you expect to get from it, is motivation. Networking takes effort and brings most people out of their comfort-zone, especially face-to-face networking. Knowing precisely what benefit you will get from networking provides the motivation to go and do it – you know the payback exceeds the cost of the effort.

The third perspective is if you don’t know exactly what you want from networking, people can’t help you achieve it! You might have many willing and helpful people in your network, but if you can’t tell them what you want, they can’t help you get it.

So make sure to put some thought into clarifying your objectives for networking.

Should You Fit In Or Stand Out At The Workplace?

Should you stand out or fit in at work?

The short answer to this question, according to Stanford Professor Amir Goldberg and Berkeley Professor Sameer Srivastava, is that it depends:

  • If you are different culturally, such as wearing clothes that are different from the norm at your workplace, then you should try and fit in structurally (by having a close set of colleagues at work).
  • And if you don’t fit in structurally and are not part of any cliques at the office, but instead have a broad network throughout the firm, then you should aim to fit in culturally.

The modern workplace, especially tech companies, rewards people who stand out from the pack. Creativity, diversity and innovation are valued.

However, at the same time, fitting into the organisation and having a common sense of identity is also important.

This creates conflicting demands on employees.

According to the researchers there are 4 possible approaches to handle this conflict:

  1. Be high on culture fit and low on structure fit.
  2. Be low on culture fit and high on structure fit.
  3. Be high on culture fit and high on structure fit.
  4. Be low on culture fit and low on structure fit.

fit in or stand out at work

Assimilated Brokers are most likely to do well and Disembedded Actors are the most likely to be fired.

Assimilated Brokers are great networkers and are well connected with various people across departments. They are not part of any particular clique and don’t limit themselves to only knowing people in their department well. However, they do blend in culturally.

Disembedded Actors are not part of a dense clique and interact with people outside their department. At the same time, they don’t fit in culturally as well. So while they interact with people in the organisation, they aren’t able to relate well to them and cannot make a connection.

In the end, you need to find the right balance for yourself.

Either maintain your place as part of a tight-knit group but stand out by behaving a little weirdly, or be the smooth networker who knows what’s going on across the organization but also knows how to blend in culturally. You want to distinguish yourself from the pack without making anyone in the pack uncomfortable.” says Goldberg.

The Email Closing You Need to Get Replies

Whether you’re reaching out for help at work or need to change an online order you placed before it ships, you need to send email messages that get a response.

While writing the body of the email may seem like the tough part, signing off is probably not really on your radar.

However, your closing is just as important as anything else in the email, according to new research. Does your “Regards,” “Thanks,” or “Just Keep Swimming” really make much of a difference? If so, what kind of a difference? Is “Best” really best?

An evaluation of 350,000 email closings revealed that the type of closing you use really does impact the response rates to those emails. For the study, researchers at Boomerang evaluated messages from the archives of 20 online communities and found a large base of messages with a wide variety of subject matter, response rates and closing types.

Often, people determine their closing based on the content or setting of the email that they’re sending. While “Love” might be appropriate for a message to your spouse, it’s likely not the closing of choice for emails sent in the professional environment.

The most popular closings in the sample taken were:

  1. Thanks,
  2. Regards,
  3. Cheers,
  4. Best regards,
  5. Thanks in advance,
  6. Thank you,
  7. Best,
  8. Kind regards,

So, which one corresponds with the best response rate?

Overwhelmingly, closings that indicate thanks, including “Thanks in advance,” “Thanks,” or “Thank you,” received the most responses and highest response rates over any other closings. In fact, emails with thankful closings saw response rates of 62 percent. An expression of gratitude in an email’s closing resulted in a 36 percent relative increase in the response rate.

These results echo the results from a 2010 study entitled “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way.” This study found that cover letter editing requests were more likely to receive attention when the request email included the line “Thank you so much!” This indicates that recipients who feel that their response is valuable and appreciated are more likely to respond to emails that demonstrate as much.

So the next time you sign off on an email, think about the message that you’re sending. While “Thanks in advance” may seem a bit forward or presumptive, it’s likely to get some attention and a response from the recipient.

4 Excellent New Books For Your Career

To help your career in 2017, here is a selection of new books that provide guidance on topics such as changing careers, finding a good job, professional development, networking and achieving your goals.

“Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One”

Former Google career development manager and current career coach Jenny Blake explains a four-step, incremental method to change your career in “Pivot.” The steps include:

  • Planning your career and goals for the future.
  • Getting a good idea of your strengths.
  • Figuring our how to get from where you are, to where you want to be.

Blake offers dozens of how-to exercises to illustrate how you make small changes in the right direction. She advocates making small changes in succession until you reach an ultimate career goal.

“Reinvention Roadmap”

Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, gives her tips on how to reinvent yourself as you look for new opportunities and new career paths.

Her 20-plus years of experience in HR demonstrate her expertise.

Ryan has more than 1 million followers on LinkedIn, so you should listen heartily to the concepts presented in her book “Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve.”

“Designing Your Life”

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life,” by professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans of Stanford University’s design department, explores how interior design principles can be used to improve your life and career.

The authors talk about a five-step, life/career design process. The trick to design the life you want lies in continually testing things in small yet impactful ways until you discover what works best.

For example, the pair say you should explore your next move by conducting interviews with someone who made the same decision in their past that you’re pondering for your future.

In the midst of the interviews, you get a feel for the reality of your possible path and whether it measures up to your expectations, effort and expertise.

“Build Your Dream Network”

We all know that developing meaningful connections, both off and online, is important for our careers.

However, many of us don’t make the time to do so. We also don’t go about it in a well planned and strategic way.

Author J. Kelly Hoey provides great tips, expert interviews and checklists, to help you make the process easier and effective.

Happy reading!

Scientific Ways To Hold A Good Conversation

You want to make conversation with someone at your office or at an event, but you always feel like a conversationalist dud. So, what do you do?

You follow these conversation tactics to embrace a more social you.

Ask for Advice

Asking a person for advice is a great way to keep a conversation going, influence people and make them warm up to you.

Also, people like getting the chance to feel as though their advice is important.

This has been proven to work well numerous times and in a variety of business/social situations. Some examples of research in the area include work done by Robert Cialdini (Professor at Arizona State University) and Adam Grant (Professor at Wharton).

Gossip Correctly

People enjoy a good time gossiping, but getting involved with negative gossip can reflect badly upon you.

Gossip can color the way people view you. Research has shown that people unconsciously associate you the traits you are describing. So if you are saying good things about another person, you are seen in a positive light and if you are saying negative things, then those characteristics are applied to you.

This could also lead them to be turned off by what you’re saying or even make them wonder what you may say about them behind their backs. A surefire way to stop a conversation cold.

Become a Listener

People love being able to talk about themselves and their lives.

Researchers have even found that it is as pleasurable and triggers the same feelings as money or food.

Therefore, by encouraging a person to talk about themselves, you’re putting them in a good mood and making them enjoy the conversation.

Use Feedback and Questions

As per the NeuroLeadership Institute, not only should you be a listener, but you should be an active listener that uses feedback and questions to dig deeper into the conversation.

If the other person seeks out your help about something, or if you want to provide feedback, or point out a correction, asking questions can help them to come up a potential solution, or see a flaw in their thinking, on their own.

This is a positive and non-threatening approach.

Ask Two-Questions

The two-questions method is also meant to help put the person, with whom you want to converse, in a good mood.

As per Daniel Kahneman, Professor at Princeton and Nobel Laureate, this method can turn your normal small talk game upside down, but it works.

The first question you should ask the other person is about something positive in his or her life. Then, after you’ve heard about this positive thing, you should then inquire about the person’s life overall.

After the first question, the other person should be in a more positive frame of mind and they will answer the follow-up question(s) enthusiastically.

Conversations will come so much easier to you when you start employing these tactics. You may find what works for one person may not work with another, so vary your conversation game. You’ll be able to make and hold great conversations with just a bit of practice.

Expand Your Networking Horizons To Other Industries

You may have focused on networking inside of your industry up to this point in your career. It’s only natural, right? Why would you need contacts outside of your industry?

According to Dorie Clark, Author & Professor at Duke University, there are a few reasons why you may want to step outside your industry with networking.

It opens up your options if you want to change careers, especially in an instance when your overall industry has been impacted negatively. If that happens, your industry contacts may not be much use for potential employment, since everyone is in the same boat as you.

You never know when you or a client will need some outside industry advice. Plus, networking with people outside your industry will help to broaden your horizons in how you view your industry and the world.

Here are some tips to get you stepping outside of your comfort zone to network with other industry professionals.

Evaluate Your Network

It’s possible that you’ve already completed some networking outside of your industry.

Evaluate the people that you consider part of your network, based on the amount of time you spend with them and the industry in which you work.

If you find that a high percentage of the people that you spend the most time with are within your industry, it’s time for you to start networking to find people outside of your area of expertise.

Get Recommendations

Those already in your network have their own network.

Sure, there may be some overlaps in your networks, but there’s a good chance that they have contacts on their network that would be new to you.

Ask them for an introduction to individuals in their network that are outside of your industry.

If there’s a particular industry that seems interesting to you, ask your contacts to see if they know someone in that industry. See if your contacts can introduce you to these new people.

Always Make Time to Network

Pencil in time to network on your schedule on a regular basis.

Building these relationships, especially outside of your industry, may seem like you’re not getting a return on your investment immediately.

However, this hard work can benefit you in the long run. You never know when that person you met at a scheduled networking event may come in handy in your life. Build and sustain the network of contacts that you make.

It can be easy to fall into a mindset where you believe that your network is big enough thanks colleagues within your own industry. You might become complacent and think that future networking isn’t that necessary.

Often, the most successful people in your life are the ones that have a strong and healthy network of contacts across many industries. These people help them accomplish their goals and stay ahead.

Tips To Keep Your Professional Network In Good Condition

Everyone knows how important it is to build up a network.

But once you’ve made that network of connections with people, how do you maintain them over a long period of time?

Getting your foot in the door and making connections with others is hard, but making long-lasting connections is even more difficult.

Recent studies show how invaluable networking is when it comes to a person’s professional success, such as getting promotions, having influence, earning more money, and feeling more satisfied and fulfilled in one’s career. Networks give people access to valuable information, including professional advice and assistance with solving problems in the workplace.

You’ll never know when you need to get in contact with someone for help, such as for a job reference or other professional favor, so it’s good to make sure that the connections within your professional network are long-term rather than short-term. If you’re not staying in touch with past connections, then you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of potential opportunities for growth, development and success.

  • How frequently should you reach out and be in touch with your professional contacts?
  • How do you balance efforts to bring in new connections while also taking care of those whom you’ve known for a while?
  • How do you maintain your professional network over the years?

Here are some answers to these questions, provided by Rebecca Knight (Professor at Wesleyan University), Herminia Ibarra (Professor at INSEAD) and Francesca Gino (Professor at Harvard Business School)


Know What’s Important

Group your contacts into categories, such as current clients, potential clients, influential colleagues, powerful colleagues and friends. Also think about the ways in which your relationships, both personal and professional, can improve your life.

Then figure out where you should best allocate your attention, or which groups of contacts you should prioritize over others, for your long-term professional network.


Nuture The Relationship

Think about all the tools and technologies you have on hand to communicate with your connections and how best you can use these to nurture your relationships.

Whether through phone, email, handwritten notes or coffee dates, reach out to your connections to show them that you care. You can reach out for many reasons, such as a birthday, new job, meeting a common connection, reading about them and so on.

Always be in the orbit of the people who you’re trying to cultivate, so that if you ever need their help with something, they will be more inclined to lend a hand.


Don’t Hide Online

We live and work in the Digital Age, which means that staying connected with people, from both your past and your present, is easier than ever before thanks to social media.

However, an over-reliance on using social media to maintain your professional network over a long period of time, might not be the best idea.

Don’t just rely on social media to stay connected. Use it to your advantage, such as trading direct messages with your networking contacts on Twitter or reposting content that they’ve created on their blogs or Facebook, but also stay connected with them by speaking or meeting in person.


Be of Assistance

Always look for ways that you can be helpful to your contacts.

Observe and listen carefully to what they have to say and the problems that they are facing. Then see if there is any way you can help them or be of use.

Make sure that your motives are pure and not selfish. Always be genuine, authentic and sincere to create a sense of respect and appreciation. Appearing shallow and self-motivated is counterproductive to maintaining your professional network over a long period of time.


Never Brag

Never brag about your accomplishments and achievements.

It’s a good thing to let your connections know about any professional successes like job promotions, but don’t gain a reputation as someone who brags.

You can mildly promote yourself, but never go so far as to appear pretentious or egotistical.


Don’t Be Desperate

Friendships, whether professional or personal, are just one of those things that cannot be forced.

If there is someone from your past who want to keep in touch with, but they’ve never responded to your attempts to reach out, then just let it go.

Don’t overly concern yourself with connections that are one-sided because appearing desperate and clueless will only make you appear less desirable. Shallow or non-mutual connections are not worth the effort and will never last long.


Regroup Now and Then

Every couple of months or so, regroup your professional ties.

Take a look at your contacts and networking priorities, and see if they are still relevant.

How to make networking feel less phony and uncomfortable

Just the thought of going out to meet new people for the sake of advancing your career, makes you break out in a cold sweat.

For others, it looks easy.  Some individuals can circulate and chat with people they don’t know, and are quite comfortable while they do it.

You, however, wonder how they can’t help but feel like phonies.  You feel so fake when you try networking.

That’s okay. You aren’t alone.

But whether we like it or not, networking has become an integral part of today’s professional environment. It can have many benefits for your career.

So here are a few tips that can make networking easier, provided by professors Francesca Gino (Harvard Business School), Tiziana Casciaro (Rotman School of Management) and Maryam Kouchaki (Kellogg School of Management).


Look at the Positives

By looking at a networking gathering as an obligation instead of seeing it as an opportunity, you limit yourself.

Change your mindset to focus more on the positives and opportunities that networking presents.

Look at it as a way to learn from other people, discover new ideas/perspectives and advance your career.

That will make the interactions seem more worthwhile.


Look for Common Interests

This is especially useful if you plan on meeting a specific person, at an event or 1-to-1.

Before the meeting, learn as much as you can about the person and their likes/dislikes. There are many ways to do this, such as researching their background, seeing their social media activity and reading articles they may have written.

Look for interests you have in common and try to understand their personality a bit better.

This will help you have a better conversation, beyond just small talk, and the whole process will seem more meaningful and authentic.


Be Altruistic with Networking

Keep in mind that networking isn’t only about what others can do for you, but also what you can do for others.

Your views, experiences, connections and opinions are unique. Use them to help other people when networking and it will take on a higher purpose for you.


Look Past the Now

The immediate act of networking may seem phony and uncomfortable.

However, try to take a longer term and collective perspective.

For example, look at networking as a way to enhance the image your firm, or as a way to help your colleagues and clients.

‘Weak ties’ are more likely to get you a job

Job searching is not what it used to be.

If it has been a few years since you have needed to actively look for a job, you might not be aware of all the possibilities and options available.

Job boards and newspaper classifieds may still have a few benefits and resources, but they no longer play as significant of a role.

A proper digital presence and social media, especially LinkedIn, are now the best way to approach today’s job market.

Although LinkedIn is growing daily in popularity, very rarely is it used to its full potential. Most people use it as just another job board, which defeats it’s purpose entirely.

When used properly, LinkedIn has the ability to place your resume on top of any employer’s stack of applicants.

The main benefits of LinkedIn are:

  1. Easier networking and contact management.
  2. Having access to people in employer companies directly (i.e. being able to bypass recruiters and job boards).
  3. Making use of ‘weak ties’ which are a very effective for job search purposes.

Let’s look into the usefulness of weak ties for your job search.

Connections with colleagues, close friends, and family members are great. You should certainly use these ‘strong ties’ in order to get your next job.

However, according to a study completed by sociologist Mark Granovetter, you are 58% more likely to land a job through the people in your life who you are not that close to.

Such people, who Professor Adam Grant (Wharton School) calls weak or dormant ties, are “people with whom you’ve lost touch for a few years: a childhood neighbor, a college roommate, or a colleague from your first job.”

LinkedIn makes it very easy to find, connect with and cultivate these people during your job search.

Through the years of drifting apart, they have established different connections and developed new friendships with people you probably do not know. They provide an expanded set of opportunities that are not available through your close friends and family members, who have the same general social circles you do.

So the next time you get a LinkedIn request from someone from a distant past, or someone who you don’t know too well, think twice before ignoring it. The power of LinkedIn is in it’s network. You have access to your connections, as well as people in their network, and their network’s network.

For best practices to use LinkedIn during your job search with strong and weak ties, take a look at some of our articles and also the Networking/LinkedIn section of our job search guide.