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There are many studies that have been compiled for decades on techniques that people use when they are conducting a job search. The one job search method that has consistently ranked at the top for generating the best results is “Hot Networking.”

My definition of “Hot Networking” includes both professional and personal contacts. Professional contacts would include: associates, former colleagues and bosses, people that reported to you, staff that you promoted, helped, trained, coached or mentored. Also included would be strategic partners with whom you work, and people at your competitors with whom you are acquainted.

Personal hot networking contacts would include friends, family, community (your church or association memberships), school friends, alumni, sports in which you are active, hobbies that you participate in and neighbors past and present.

Anyone with whom you have a connection is part of your hot network.

But where do you start?

First look at your cell phone. Those numbers that you have entered into the “contacts” are all part of your Hot Network. Do you have a Rolodex with names in it? Somewhere you probably have a handful of business cards. Check your connections on Linkedin and your friends on Facebook.

Next, concentrate on developing a listing of names from your Hot Network. Start with your present and former employers. Who was your immediate supervisor or manager? Who reported to you? If you were on a team, worked on a project or in a department, who else was there? Who were or are your colleagues, co-workers or peers? Were you on any committees? Did you attend meetings? Who else attended those committees and meetings?

What about spouses of co-workers? Does your company have any affiliate companies, divisions, or subsidiaries? Do they franchise? Whom do you know at those organizations?

Who were your customers or clients? Suppliers? Vendors? Outside sales people that called on your company? Who were the other officers of your former employer? Department heads? Ask these questions of each and every employer for whom you have worked.

Further, ask yourself: Who is your banker? Do you know anyone at a credit union? Finance company? Do you know any accountants or bookkeepers? Who does your taxes? Do you know any CPAs or auditors? Who is your bookie (joke)?

Do you know any lawyers, attorneys or judges? Do you know any other professionals in the legal field?

Whom do you know that owns a business? Whom do you know that owns real estate? Whom do you know that owns a boat, RV, yacht, classic car, or has a hobby, collection or special interest like yours?

If you are active in your church, who are the other members? Who is the clergy person?

Do you know any politicians, city or community leaders, anyone on the city council or that belongs to the chamber of commerce? If you attended college or a vocational school, who was your favorite instructor or professor? What other teachers, trainers or educators do you know? Who were your classmates?

Who is the best networker that you know – in other words, whom do you know that meets people easily? What sales people do you know? Do you know anyone in the military?

Who is your medical doctor? What other physicians, doctors, specialists, dentists, optometrists, pediatricians, medical technician or nurses do you know? Do you belong to a health club? Who else belongs? Are you active in any sports, and whom do you know in connection with that?

Last summer one of my clients, a recently retired lieutenant colonel, was at his son’s soccer game. The grandmother of one of the other boys on the team was talking about wanting a cup of coffee. Even though the concession stand was not yet open, the lieutenant colonel walked to the stand and was able to obtain a cup of coffee for the lady. Later he was introduced to the father of the boy, the CEO of a company, and they ended up discussing business. Turned out the lieutenant colonel was an excellent fit for a job opening at the CEO’s company. He ended up with an excellent position. Exactly the type of job he was seeking.

You never know where the lead or opportunity will come from.

What are the names of adult relatives who work? Who are your neighbors? Barber? Hairdresser? Auto mechanic?

Did we leave any category out?

Next step is to methodically choose those hot network contacts who would be best for you to contact. What you are looking for is an “onward referral.” In other words, whom else does that person know and think you should be talking to?

Important point: The lead that you receive regarding a job opportunity will probably not come from your immediate hot network. It will probably come from the referrals that they give you.

Your lead for a new position will probably come from the second or third degree of separation.

Richard M. Knappen is president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California.

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