Everyone tells you that getting a great job depends on who you know. So, how much would you pay to meet for five minutes apiece with the CEOs of three good corporations?

I wouldn’t give a plug nickel.

Why not? Because ten minutes later they won’t know you from Adam.

Once I’ve picked the company I want to work for, I’d rather have five minutes apiece with:

  • A company engineer who wrote a letter to the editor of a good technical publication,
  • The guy who sells office equipment to the company,
  • And the reporter who wrote a local newspaper story about the company.

These are the people who can help you navigate the organization by introducing you to a broad range of workers and managers in the organization. They can also give you the inside scoop — information that’s not easily shared at more formal levels of communication.

Equally important, these are people you can track down on your own, and they’re people who will talk to you again and again — assuming that mutually beneficial relationships mean more to you than coldhearted “networking” does.

If you want to get a foot, then two feet, then both arms and your head in the door, meet the right people.

(For more about how to make networking friendly and productive, see “A Good Network Is A Circle of Friends,” pp. 27-32, in How Can I Change Careers?)

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