This step will help you learn more about a person’s career path, company and field of expertise, and how you can apply that success to your own career.

As a career coach, when I talk to job seekers on the phone, they’re usually exasperated about coming up empty-handed after applying for the multitude of open jobs that interest them. Recently, I spoke with a woman, Zeena, who was looking for a position as a translator.

After she told me about her efforts to find a job on her own, I wanted to know more about her networking efforts. Let’s face it — your network can be your most powerful asset when it comes to the job search because it’s like a ripple in a pond — once you’ve told your network you’re looking for a specific role, they can help amplify this message out to their respective networks and so on.

Zeena had relayed to her connections her desire for a new job, and I asked her to give me an example of what she was communicating. I discovered that while she was talking herself up, she really wasn’t communicating her value to her contacts or potential new employers. Her other problem? She wasn’t being specific about what she needed from her network.

My first recommendation to her was getting proactive with informational interviews. By using these as an opportunity to connect with new individuals, Zeena could also learn more about the person’s career path, company and field of expertise while simultaneously building a relationship with this person. The benefit of this approach is that you get to hear from people in the roles you want and learn how they got there.

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