Team of people smiling at cameraAs you look for work, networking may help you find job leads, learn more about an industry and get advice for applying and interviewing for different jobs. Check out our tips to help you build and maintain strong professional relationships during your job search.

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Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Tips for Networking

Nov 30, 2017

Team of people smilingHow often have you heard, "It's not what you know; it's who you know"? It turns out that statistics back that up. In fact, some sources note that as many as 85% of jobs are filled through networking. This huge statistic reflects the fact that many jobs are never advertised because they are filled by a person the employer already knows or by people who are referred by trusted contacts. This doesn't mean that you should never apply to jobs you see online; it just means that you need to incorporate networking in your job search.

When you network effectively, you will meet people who know of job openings, who can give you advice on your search or even connect you with other people. However, before you start networking, you'll want to prepare. To help you make your networking activities pay off in finding job opportunities, we've put together some practical tips:

Be clear about your goals. Being able to say what type of job you are looking for and why you are a good candidate is key. Make sure your resume and online profile are a match with that type of job. If you're not quite sure of your employment goals, you can talk with an Employment Network or other Ticket to Work (Ticket) program service provider. They may be able to help you consider your job options based on your interests, experience and skills.

Consider online and in-person options. Researching individuals and prospective employers online should be your first step. Visit Finding Work through LinkedIn for tips on how to identify people with whom you should meet. Make a list of your contacts. You will find that your network is bigger than you think. Remember, networking doesn't always happen in person. Using social media, like LinkedIn may be a good way to meet new people or contact people you haven't talked with in a while.

Reach out. Whether it's calling, writing an e-mail, or sending a message on social media, let your contacts know that you're looking for a job. Let them know whether you're looking for a reference, a job lead or more information about the industry. Make sure to provide an update on your qualifications and recent job experience. If you've disclosed your disability with this contact, he or she may be able to help you think about job accommodations that may help you in the workplace.

Attend a networking event. Choose a networking event that aligns with your goal. Pick an event where you can find the experts in your field or where you have a higher chance of meeting potential employers. Consider attending a job fair — either in-person or online. Making the Most of a Virtual Career Fair has some hints for participating online.

Set up an informational interview. Asking someone for an informational interview shows you're motivated to work, eager to learn about employment opportunities, and interested in exploring a particular workplace or field. Read Informational Interviews: Learn from others about a Job or Career for pointers on what to ask.

Maintain your network. Keep a list of people you consider key to your search and others you need to reconnect with and schedule time for a phone call or meeting. Check in periodically to see how they're doing or to say thank you. It doesn't always have to be about your job search. Just staying in touch will help you keep a network of people you can count on for ideas, advice, feedback, and support.

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

In addition to helping you consider your employment goals, a Ticket program service provider may help you meet professional contacts or may help you consider if and how you'd like to disclose your disability when networking.

Learn More

You can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.