People like helping others, especially when it comes to finding jobs. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Labor, 60 percent of people get jobs by networking. It's good to have connections, and it is equally important to be well rounded and have the skills that are needed for the job. Many people who work with animals hear about jobs through their member organizations, or through friends, colleagues, professors, and people they worked for — even if they volunteered or worked part-time.
It also is wise to expand your network, which means asking everyone you know if they have a connection. A friend of a friend may work at a place where you want to work. The trick is to not be shy about asking. Remember, too, that when someone helps you out, you will in effect owe a debt to someone else. In the future, when you have job security and a newbie comes along asking for advice, you will be in the position to pay it back.
When your membership organization hosts a lecture, holiday party, or workshop, go. Take along your business cards (you can print out a handful of them on your computer) and strike up conversations with people you want to meet. You can talk about the event, and let the others know that you are new to the field and are looking for work. Remember that people enjoy helping others find work.
Treat each networking opportunity like a job interview. It is important to be prepared. If you are meeting a friend of a friend, quiz your friend about the person you will be meeting. If you are going to an event or networking party, ask the host who will be attending and then learn about their organizations. A lot of company information can be found on the Internet.
People like knowing that you take an interest in them and their profession. Having done some research will make you a better conversationalist. Being prepared also can ease any tension. Be sure to ask questions and exchange business cards.
After the event, follow up with a note thanking your new contacts for any helpful advice they shared. Then don't leave it at that — keep in touch with them. By staying in touch, they will remember you when a job opens up.
When you do continue to follow up via phone, e-mail, mail, or in person, ask your contact if he knows anyone in your field or at a specific organization who could help you with your job search. If he does, ask if he could share those names and numbers with you. Then ask if you can use his name when you introduce yourself to the new contact. Chances are he will say yes.
Keep track of all of your networking contacts. You can start a database listing their names, company names, titles, contact information, and how you met them. When you do get your next job, remember to notify your networking contacts and stay in touch. You never know when you can repay the favor or when you will need another one.