JeniferHarrington wasn't looking for a new job when she accepted her current position nine months ago. She was just tired of always rejecting potential offers.
The 29-year-old sales director for business publisher Jeffrey Press Inc. goes out of her way to establish relationships with anyone she does business with.
"If you're good at networking, you should never have to look that hard to get a job," Harrington said.
Networking remains one of the best ways to find work or earn a promotion, experts say, even in the realm of electronic resumes and online applications.
The concept is based on building relationships with people who can help someone improve their business or career. It is a process that involves making connections with colleagues, peers and business associates as well as strangers.
Networking can make some people cringe, but others, including Harrington, see it as a way of life.
By using personal connections, job seekers can distinguish themselves and display the coveted people skills many employers seek. Several recruiters and hiring managers agree that a referral can make the difference between tossing a resume away or giving it a second look.
"People think that networking is some specific thing," said Peter H. Shankman, chief executive and founder of the Geek Factory, a marketing firm in New York. "Networking to me is as natural as breathing."
Shankman said anyone can be a source. He once landed a client because someone noticed a Homer Simpson sticker on Shankman's laptop and asked about it.
Children are often taught never to talk to strangers, but Shankman said that advice is worthless in business.
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