“Networking” is undoubtedly the best method for identifying career options, as 70 percent of the senior-level executives we’ve surveyed credit this activity for their success, and more than half of corporate and search firm recruiters reportedly find candidates this way. But “networking” is a broad term, with differing interpretations, and analysis from the ExecuNet 16th Annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report found that this activity varies by age group.
Executives over age 50 are more apt to develop new contacts online and in-person and their networking actions mirror those of the overall survey group of 3,600+ senior-level leaders.
Executives aged 25 to 40 are more reluctant to get referrals from networking contacts and expand their circle of connections. Direct connections probably know many of the same people and opportunities as you, so reaching beyond them to “warm leads” is a great method for sourcing new career options. The 41- to 50-year old executives are most familiar with this tactic, and they are the most likely age group to ask existing contacts for referrals.
Contacting search firms/recruiters” is among the least popular job search strategies for all age groups, although 25- to 40-year olds are the most comfortable with recruiter outreach. Some may not know the best ways to reach recruiters is to network into a search firm as you would any other organization. Find out the name of a partner and then do your due diligence to find someone who knows the partner or someone else in the firm just as you would with any other company.”
However you define it, “networking” can be both a deliberate or spontaneous act. Researching and seeking out an individual who might be a good source can produce the same outcome as striking up a conversation with a stranger in a car wash waiting room. It may yield some opportunity or just be a friendly way to pass the time. In either case, there are benefits.