Job Perfection Series:
  1. Find Your Passion
  2. Spot Your Strengths
  3. Gather Your Goals
  4. Nurture Your Network
  5. Enhance Your Education

This article is part of a five part series on finding your career calling and discovering the five paths to your perfect job. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

It’s time to unknot your network and start cultivating contacts. Now that you have pondered your passion, spotted your strengths, and gathered your goals, it’s time to take this knowledge to town and nurture your network!

Today I want to look at ways to find career prospects and job leads by looking at your various social, business, community, and professional networks. Opportunities come from people, and the more people who know you the better your chances of future success. I’ve found my greatest job hunting success by contacting and speaking with various groups of people.

Here are ten ways to nurture your network and find your career calling:

1. Collect Colleagues:

Keeping a collection of my closest colleagues has proven my most successful network when on the hunt for the perfect job. It’s amazing how far and wide past colleagues have traveled to find work over the years. I have friends working at major newspapers, at software gaming companies, and at various financial institutions across the country (and even abroad).

The breadth and diversity of jobs available though a network of past colleagues is astounding. Many companies offer referral bonuses to their employees by recommending people, so your past colleagues have an extra financial incentive to get you hired. Besides, getting past the resume pile and onto the interview stage through referral is a huge advantage. Also, people would rather work with those they already know, rather than bring a stranger into mix. So don’t be afraid to dial-in to the depth of this network by calling past colleagues and finding out what prospects are in the works.

2. Flock to Family:

Do you have a long lineage of family? If you’re looking for work, chances are your family can lend a helping (and familiar) hand. You’re biggest career break may just be though a kindred relative who wants to keep employment high in the house.

3. Circle of Friends:

A fabulous friendly way to find work is through your circle of friends! Be sure to contact your chums and and tell your pals about your perfect job. You never know, your closest friend may just find you the best job fit ever!

4. Ponder Professional Associations:

Professional associations provide job hunters and career changes with a plethora of employment information. Many professional associations offer job banks and direct links to top employers in your field of interest. If you’re a student or new graduate, be sure to join these associations to get a feel for a particular career path. Many associations offer student discounts on membership fees, which is a huge help if you’re dealing with loan debt. Discounts are often offered to unemployed persons pondering a career switch.

5. Connect with Alumni Associations:

It’s time to use that expensive piece of parchment. Unfurl that pricey paper and contact your alma mater! Many alumni associations offer services to connect people with professionals and career programs. That degree or diploma sitting in your basement just may be the golden ticket to your career calling.

6. Join Professional Clubs:

I never realized the networking power of professional clubs until I joined Toastmasters. My primary intention of grouping with these talkative types was to improve my public speaking skills. The secondary effect was meeting some very successful career-types who have vested interests in hiring people with similar goals in life.

Since Toastmasters practice the art of introducing each other at every darn meeting, I once introduced myself (in a humorous manner) as a joyous job hunter in search of my career calling. I then gave a 1.5 minute speech on why my resume rocked. I thought I was being silly, but the response was overwhelming. By the end of the meeting I had a bundle of business cards and a collection of contacts to consider. Despite my paralyzing fear of public speaking, I managed to clearly communicate my career passions, skill strengths, and employment goals to a group of influential people. Face your fears and join a professional club like Toastmasters today.

7. Locate Local Networking Clubs:

Every city, town, and community champions clubs to help foster business connections and growth in the area and joining your local Chamber of Commerce is great way to find people with your business passion. Every Chamber of Commerce I’ve joined offers promotional opportunities, business contacts, referrals, seminars, workshops, monthly networking events, and access to beautiful business directories. Take advantage of one of the best networking resources in your area by joining the Chamber of Commerce and networking with people looking for networks.

8. Ping Past Employers:

If they hired you once, will they hire you again? You never know until you ping a past employer to see if there’s an opportunity in the works for you. Be sure to sing your strengths and promote your accomplishments reminding them of what a catch you are!

9. Head to Headhunters:

Looking for a professional placement person? Then head on over to your local headhunter for career counseling and job placement services. There’s nothing like having a professional on board with an existing network to get you placed. Just don’t loose your head!

10. Sense Social Media:

Like to network online? Then try social networking resources like Facebook or Linkedin. Facebook membership gives users instant access to numerous networks, including: schools, places of employment, regions, or social groups. Connecting or reconnecting with lost friends, past colleagues, and professional groups has never been easier. LinkedIn is more of a business-oriented social networking environment where professionals look to get “linked” with other like-minded people.

Time to get off the computer and start cultivating these contacts. By nurturing any one of these ten networks you may just find the perfect position or your career calling.

Build a Book:

Be sure to add your network contacts and sources to the scrapbook you have been building throughout this series. These network contacts will come in handy when you’re ready to send your resume out to prospective employers on your list!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final installment of Your Career is Calling: Five Paths to Job Perfection.