By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – You’ve heard the saying before: It’s not what you know, but who you know.

There’s another word for it when you are looking for a job, and it’s called networking.

The numbers for job seekers are grim. There are four applicants for every opening, and the average job search is nine months long.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Fifty-one percent of recent hires landed their new jobs through networking. The problem for many people is they don’t find networking comes to them naturally.

“Networking is really just another way of saying making friends. Every interaction you have is an opportunity to build your network,” Recruiter Michelle Tillis Lederman explained.

There is no right or wrong way to network. Start by figuring out how you best connect with people.

It can help to have a few “conversation starters” up your sleeve, such as inquiring about a person’s job, asking their opinion, or offering a compliment.

“The most important thing in converting a conversation to a connection is the follow up,” said Tillis Lederman.

Make a point to reach out within two weeks by sending a quick email just saying it was nice to meet you, or offer an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Less formal follow-ups can be equally effective.

“What are the things you talked about that can just show that you listened, and cared enough to follow up on,” said Tillis Lederman.

For people who are employed, don’t forget to network internally too. Introduce yourself to people in other departments.

Also use social media effectively. LinkedIn is a good way to make new connections, and Facebook makes staying in touch with your existing network easier.

Staying in touch is important because you want to have solid relationships in place before reaching out for help.

“You never know when you’re going to need that network, and when you’re constantly building and supporting and nurturing a network, that network is going to be there when you need it,” said Tillis Lederman.


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