shawn graham’s networking do’s and dont’s

Job seekers can learn a lot from Cupid as Valentine’s Day draws near. According to Shawn Graham, author of Courting Your Career, scoring a great job requires many of the same skills and strategies as wooing a love interest.

For example, statistics indicate that most job seekers despise networking, prompting them to ignore this essential strategy in their search for jobs. As a result, these people often miss out on dozens of job leads that could have connected them to their dream job.

In his book, Graham likens the importance of networking to the dating scene. “Before you can date someone, you need to meet someone. And what better place to meet someone than in the ‘meet market?’ I’m not talking about the selection of steaks at your local grocery store or a bar full of men and women undressing you with their eyes. I’m talking about meeting someone through a friend or a friend of a friend,” says Graham.

“Like dating, when you’re looking for a job, mutual friends can be a great resource for expanding your professional network.”

In the dating game a person can sour their opportunity to score a date or exchange phone numbers in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, it’s as simple as using a cheesy pick-up line, moving too fast or having bad breath. Similarly, there are a handful of ways job seekers can quickly turn off a valuable networking contact. Graham offers the following do’s and don’ts:

Networking Do’s:

  • Be professional and courteous during all of your interactions.
  • Proofread all e-mails
  • Ask insightful and thoughtful questions.
  • Ask for names of others who may be willing to help you.
  • Send thank-you notes to contacts whether or not they were helpful.
  • Stay in touch with contacts even after you find a job.

Networking Don’ts

  • Make a contact feel used and manipulated.
  • Ask a contact to find you a job.
  • Send generic e-mails to new or existing contacts.
  • Send a copy of your resume if it was not requested first.
  • Miss or be late to a meeting.
  • Monopolize someone’s time when he or she has agreed to speak with you.

Although networking can be a challenging strategy to master, it’s the one most likely to result in employment opportunities. Graham says, “Keep in mind how much more comfortable it is to meet someone who’s been introduced to you by a mutual friend. Even a blind date is easier if you and your date have mutual friends. When it’s time to hire a new employee, most employers prefer to hire a job candidate who’s been referred by a trusted employee. That way, they can feel more like they’re venturing into known territory.”

Courting Your Career is available at all major bookstores and from the publisher ( or 1.800.648.JIST). The author, Shawn Graham, is immediately available for print, broadcast and online interviews. To request a copy of Courting Your Career or to speak with Graham, contact Selena Dehne.

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