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The 4×4 Job Search Challenge

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4x4

If you are on the job hunt, wading through online job postings is probably a familiar past time. And a time consuming one.

Because of the massive amounts of applicants and the few jobs actually available, the best way to successfully get an interview is to get a referral from someone already in your dream company.  Today, you have to put much more work into a job search to make yourself stand out from the crowd.  Some days, I bet you’re left thinking that this is just too much. Maybe you’ve even contemplated giving up.

Wait! Don’t quit just yet. I want to tell you about a job search strategy I used that can help you find your next dream job.

The barriers

At the beginning of 2011, I was preparing to graduate from business school and trying to figure out the next step in my career.  I made a New Year’s resolution to knock down my barriers to networking and meet the people that would help me reach my goals and dreams.  This was not easy.  You see, I am an introvert and I need to be pushed shoved to get out and network.  I am guilty of all the negative thoughts and excuses for not networking such as:

  • I am too busy.
  • I don’t know anyone.
  • I am exhausted after work.
  • My next great opportunity will come to me.
  • I hate that awkward introduction and I never know what to say to people I don’t know.

The challenge

In January 2011, I embarked on a 4X4 networking challenge where every month I would met with four people I already knew but would like to get to know even better. I also made a point of meeting with four new people.  My goal was to learn from each person I talked to and ask questions about how I get to the next step in my career.  At the end of 2011, I will have added 48 new people to my network and strengthened relationships with 48 friends, co-workers and family members.

The results

I have successfully completed my challenge for six months have had had the following amazing results:

  1. An interview: One of the most exciting outcomes of my challenge was that I got an interview at a top consulting firm that I was trying to get into for months.   I was referred to an employee working at the company and she coached me through the hiring process and even gave me secret tips for the interview!
  2. Confidence and clear direction:  In the beginning, I had to write out all the questions I wanted to ask. I rehearsed my elevator speech five times before each call.  I am now more confident when speaking to people I don’t know and am immediately ready to go when they call.  By talking with others in different fields about my future goals and dreams, my career path has become crystal clear and I now know exactly the steps I need to take.
  3. Referrals: I was shocked by the number of people who wanted to help me along my networking journey.  Everyone I spoke to wanted to introduce me to someone else and most months I connected with even more than the eight people I reached out to.  Just five minutes into one of my meetings, my contact told me she would refer me to her company because of how proactive I was in requesting and preparing for the informational interview.  Talk about a great first impression!

So the next time you are preparing to apply for your next job online, take a minute and go through your network to see if anyone you know has contacts at the company or industry of your dreams.  Reach out to your network on your social media accounts or send emails to people you know in the community or alumni from your college. Challenge yourself to knock down your networking barriers and reach for your goals and dreams.

Anna, perhaps better known as Classy Career Girl, provides advice to young professionals on how to be classy as they climb the corporate ladder.  Her blog covers topics such as business chic fashion, career motivation, personal development, networking and office etiquette.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Walter

    As a professional career transition consultant I know from the experience of hundreds of clients who have been successful in finding great jobs, that your advice is absolutely right on. Consider this: If a stranger knocks on your door, are you likely to invite them in?

    If a neighbor whom you know and trust knocks on your door and says to you that they would like to introduce you to someone – Are you more likely to invite them in?

    Good on ya Classy

    • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

      “If a neighbor whom you know and trust knocks on your door and says to you that they would like to introduce you to someone – Are you more likely to invite them in?”

      I would probably chat on the porch for a few minutes before excusing myself once I could and most likely forget the person even existed a few hours later.

  • Joann

    Kudos to you for not only acknowledging your networking barriers but more importantly doing something about it! You took action and look what happened. This is what I call Playing BIG and becoming friends with courage. I love your 4 x 4 networking challenge….thank you for sharing your story!

  • Elizabeth York

    That sounds like an amazing strategy! As a twenty-something looking for full time work, I could see this networking strategy having a great impact on me while I career search. Hope you ended up getting that job you wanted, I am still thinking about what I want to do. You can check out my post about Dream Jobs here: http://elizabethyork.com/dream-job

  • http://entryleveldilemma.blogspot.com Edward – Entry Level Dilemma

    Excuses 2 & 5 are high on my list. But my #1 is that I. DO. NOT. LIKE. STRANGERS. Which makes it hard to network. But aside from trying to figure out how to find these 52+ people to network with, or even the first 8, or even 4, my issue with this idea that 96 networking meetings probably means 96 cups of coffee at a cost of $200 or more. In the last year, I’ve probably spent more like $10 in coffee.

    • http://twitter.com/leonachan Leona Chan

      When offering to do an informational interview, you could offer to meet new contacts at their office (first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon) and treat it like a regular office meeting. They might appreciate not having to rearrange or rush their weekday/weekend schedule just to meet you at a local cafe.

      Definitely be sure to mail a nice thank you card though.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great idea! I love it!! Thanks for sharing, and for sharing your results.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Jordan/100002533047583 Matthew Jordan

    Thx. Thats sounds good. I love it!

    http://www.tarife-vergleich.org

  • Elissa

    This was so useful! I am generally a very social person but recently school has been taking over my life. I definitely needed a reminder that i need to start networking again! I too made many excuses but at the end of the day no matter how busy you are, networking can be the best thing you’ve done all day.

  • http://twitter.com/tatianarichards tatiana richards

    Thanks for this! Easy to implement, and it seems like very solid advice.

  • http://www.ipodshuffleguide.com Ichszan

    That’s a good ideas for being on social network community. Nowadays it become the most populer media for seeking relationships or busines partners. Nice share it would be so useful for me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Jordan/100002533047583 Matthew Jordan

    funny flash games http://www.games-4-free.net

  • Pingback: Classy Career Girl’s July Recap: Stay in the loop!

  • http://deepfittedsheets.org Darrenreacher

    I hate networking but sadly your strategy does seem like it could lead to long term benefits.