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How you can use networking to get a job.

As we all know, getting a job in Kenya- and elsewhere in the world- is about who you know, than what you know. It is all about ‘kujuana’. That is not exactly a bad thing, as you might think. Come to think of it, with thousands of job seekers out there, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chuff. Even when a recruiter has screened out applicant’s CVs letter by letter, and has carried out the stringiest interview criteria, there is absolutely no way to guarantee that the candidate that will be hired will be the best fit for the job. This is why many companies would gladly prefer if someone was recommended for a job, than if they have to search the candidate in the open field. To increase your network, and make it valuable to your job search, here’s how you can go about it.

1. Make it easy for someone to recommend you.
This means that your work should stand out. Remember that your recommender is taking a huge risk by recommending you. If you turn out to be someone who is mediocre and unreliable, her reputation will suffer, and she will never be relied upon to recommend another person to the company. Much more, the recruiters might even question her competence and character if you turn out to be sub-par for the job.

2. Make the relationship two Way.
The best friendships are two way. It’s about give and take. If someone does you a favor, they don’t necessarily expect that you will return the favor, but for the relationship to be sustainable, you have to
reciprocate in other ways too. If you are a good website programmer or social media analyst, then help your recommender with some aspects of that area, or when her computer is down, help to fix it. That way, the relationship will stay balanced, and whenever a position comes along, you two people will think of each other as the best people to fill that position.

3. Use social media.
Many recruiters are using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to do their hiring, or perform background checks on potential hires. You may want to ensure that you are within your intended recommender’s circle of professional colleagues. Now, here’s where you need to take caution. While you obviously want to increase your network, sending cold emails, or cold friend requests will no doubt send the danger signals, and drive the person away, rather than nearer. If you are unable to reach them, have someone who is known to both of you do the e-introduction, and then you can take it up from there.

4. Use traditional networking events.
The good old-fashioned one on one meeting is still useful. Identify your industry’s calendar of events, and attend the lunches, dinners, conferences, capacity building meetings, and other social functions within your industry. The contacts gained from those interactions are much more useful than applying for the job itself.

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