The end of the year is a great time for reflection. You may realize you are not following your passion or have no room for advancement in your current job. Perhaps one of your resolutions is to make a change. Perhaps your employer is also considering changes and you may not make the cut after the new year.

Recently I met with someone for a one on one who told me they have lost touch with their network and have now decided to re-enter the workforce so they need to start communicating with their network again. While this is a good observation-the idea that a network is the best and easiest way to help you find your next opportunity-you never want to lose touch with your network. You should always be cultivating your network whether you are job hunting or not.

Here are some tips to help you find your next job opportunity:

  1. Most job openings are never posted, they are filled by word of mouth. This is because people do business with people they know and like. This makes Networking the most effective way to find a job.
  2. If you are looking for a job, reach out to your network. Make sure they know you are looking and be specific about what you are looking for so if they hear of something appropriate they think of you. Don’t count people out because you think they won’t know someone who can help you. Think about people you see in your everyday life that know you-hairdressers, people at your gym, parents at your children’s school you see at games every week for example.
  3. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated. This includes your testimonials. Ask people in your network for recommendations and/or testimonials for your website or LinkedIn profile. Ideally, try to do this around the time you complete a project or job with them so the quality of your work and good will is fresh in their minds. But even if some time has passed, amp up your online presence with these personal recommendations and testimonials if you are job hunting.
  4. Don’t put people on the spot for a job. Meet with people to gain information, advice and insight. Ask them to refer you to anyone that might be good for you to know or speak with based on the type of opportunity you are looking for. A warm intro that helps you expand your network is a very good thing.
  5. Don’t be the type of person that swoops in to get help from your network when you need it and then disappears till the next time you need something from your network. Make sure to say thank you with a handwritten note or at least an email. Keep people posted who have given you a lead-let them know when you get an interview or get a position.