Networking Rules for Job Hunting
By Michael Hedgpeth · February 23, 2024
Networking Rules for Job Hunting

For many years in the days of low interest rates and seemingly endless investment, looking for a job was a matter of barely telling anyone that you might be thinking about maybe, one day going somewhere else. All of a sudden, numerous companies and recruiters would be pursuing you, even fighting each other, to get you to come work for them.

In the first half of 2024, it’s clear that those days are over. And it has exposed the problems in the typical job search, leaving a multitude of people unemployed and nowhere to go.

There are rules to looking for a job. These rules have always been the rules. In the good times, we can avoid these rules and get away with it. In the bad times, well, it’s time to listen up and pay attention. I would even argue that those who don’t follow the rules in the good times limit their opportunities and even set themselves up for a future layoff.

Here are the rules:


First, build your external network. Don’t wait until a position is open at someone’s company. It’s too late at that point! Instead, have lunch or coffee with someone in your network, listen to them, and get curious about what you can do to help them. Sometimes helping them will be listening to them. Other times it might be giving them an insight that might help them make progress. Whatever it might be, when you’re there for people and build authentic relationships with them, your connection to other humans will be an asset when you’re ready to make a change.

And if you don’t have a job right now, this is even more important, but it’s also even more important to refrain from seeing everyone as resources you can extract leads from. Instead, believe deep down inside that you have something to give others and commit yourself to finding that something. I promise you the job will come.


Second, be intentional about the structure of your network. Most people I know network quite haphazardly, and apps like LinkedIn actually encourage this. A connection is a connection is a connection, right? Wrong!

Instead of the spray and pray method of networking where you connect with as many people as possible, try this:

  • Find five to ten people who are ahead of you in your journey that can guide you.
  • Find another five to ten people who are your peers that you can bounce ideas off of.
  • And find five or ten people who you’re ahead of, whom you can advise and mentor.

When you do this, you quickly find that you have fifteen to thirty people you regularly interact with. If you really connect with these people and have a mutually beneficial relationship, you’re one or two degrees of separation from a ton of jobs. Focus your efforts and stay strategic.


Finally, keep your network warm. In other words, you need a system in place to communicate with these fifteen to thirty people and ensure those relationships stay vibrant, positive, and mutually beneficial. You have to be intentional about relationships for them to thrive. Otherwise you are a random person coming out of the woodwork when you need something. That is not valuable at all.

In fact, it can have a negative impact on a relationship. Annie knows a person who has only reached out to her when they need a reference to a job. Do you think that’s a positive interaction? No! She has slowly turned from thinking positively about the relationship to now thinking that the person only sees her as a means to an end, and that’s it. And that makes her sad. She liked that person. Don’t be like that!


When you follow these rules, job hunting is less about resumes, interviews, and position openings, and way more about people, people, and people. Those who follow these rules reach their full potential and help a lot of people along the way.

If you would like help with implementing these concepts, Annie and I are developing an app that will help you build your network, get intentional about balancing it the right way, and to ensure that you make your relationships with people in your network valuable and consistent.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’re starting an early access program for a limited group of people. Contact us and let us know! And follow us on LinkedIn to hear more about it.