Do you cringe when you hear the word "network"? If you're in job search, it's probably the most talked about method of landing that next job.....and yet it's baffling to most job seekers! It's a fact of life these days though -- it is estimated that at least 80% of jobs landed are found through networking. Simply put -- networking is nothing more than a conversation with someone -- ANYONE! Yes, that's really it! Anytime you have an opportunity to have a conversation; whether it's on the side-lines talking with other parents during the game, a local business owner you may frequent, at a social event, BBQ, the park, the beach....ANYWHERE, you create an opportunity to develop a relationship. Have some fun getting to know others! However, there are some rules and tips for EFFECTIVE networking. Networking for job seekers IS NOT asking a new contact (or old one) if they have a job at their place of employment for you.....or if they could give your resume to HR. 1. The first line of business for job seekers is to have contact cards always on hand (similar to a business card). As opposed to carrying around your resume, they're easy and convenient to pass on. Contact cards should include your Name, Linked-In URL, email, cell phone and area(s) of expertise. It's easy to ask for someone else's card when you provide yours. 2. Next - follow up with that contact. Either through email or a Linked-In invitation. Offer to help them and start to cultivate that relationship. Have lunch, breakfast, coffee, join similar groups....ask them about their background and challenges. 3. Good networkers talk, but more often they listen - ever hear of the 80/20 rule? Listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Conversations are usually about recent news, movies, community affairs, family, vacations, school, nearly any topic is acceptable in getting to know someone. 4. A great networker shows sincere interest in the other person and then encourages that person to talk more about themselves. The object is to build a relationship and this is where it starts. Ask "So what do you do? Where do you work?" Ask questions about THEIR job and experiences. Remember these conversations are also a great way to pick up tidbits of information about employers (and possible target companies).5. Leave that "Woe is Me" attitude at the door! During conversations remember that people don't want to hear about your problems....start that and you'll see them look away or quickly end the conversation and move on. Although your problems may be troubling, laying them on others is not a good idea, especially during job search. It's much more inviting to listen to a positive, enthusiastic person than someone who is negative and complains about the job search process, etc. People want to help, but if they can't or don't know how, it can be an uncomfortable conversation. They will avoid you.Before someone can help you they need to know you. Allowing some time for the relationship to evolve where there is trust can take some. Most people want to help, but need to know you before they recommend you. Network contacts can prove to be helpful in months and years from first contact -- the idea is to grow and nurture your network whether employed or unemployed! You will recognize that you're a good networker when you have genuine, easy, and enjoyable conversations. Your responsibility in networking is to connect them with a contact you think can help them or bring information to the other person that may be helpful to them....perhaps it's a sales tip, industry news, community news or information about a mutual interest. That's why the best networkers are the ones who seem like they are not networking at all, they're just genuinely interested! So have a conversation today and start networking!!