The common wisdom is that it takes a community to raise a child. I believe it also takes a community to find a job. If friends and family had jobs that fit us, we would already be working. It is more than likely that your next job will come from someone you don’t know yet. To find that person, it requires effort, often substantial effort, in networking.

Successful networking is a two-way street. You ask, you get. You offer, you give. There is a natural balance of getting and giving with your networking partners. By giving more, you create an imbalance, and in most cases, people will try to restore the balance by helping you with your ask.  Being specific in what you are asking for, and doing as much of the up-front work as possible to make it easy for your partners to help you generates a flow of action back towards you.  The more you give, the more you will get.  This isn’t to say there aren’t edge cases, people who only take and don’t give at all. Groom those people out of your network and concentrate on building effective networking relationships with those that reciprocate.

So how do you give, and give effectively to someone else in a job search? There are plenty of ways, here are a few suggestions. Help them identify target companies and other targets of opportunity. Determine if you have any first or second level Linked In contacts at those targets. Make a strong introduction to your contacts, describing how you met the job seeker, what your common professional interests are, and how they fit into a specific role. Ask the contact to network with the job seeker to help them understand the company, the culture, provide additional networking contacts within the target company and find the hiring manager for the role.  Tell the job seeker how you met the contact, what your common professional interests are, and how they have helped you in the past. Encourage the job seeker to reach out and schedule some time to talk. Meet with your job seeker for coffee and/or lunch for some face-to-face networking. Ask where they are succeeding and where they are struggling. Collaborate and brainstorm together. Offer additional networking contacts to help expand their network with other strong networkers. Review resumes, cover letters, profiles and give constructive feedback. Share networking meeting/event schedules and attend meetings of interest together. Practice interviewing. Share your job search stories and unique approaches. Share how you use social media to further your job search.

Build a community, an army to keep you and your search top-of-mind.  If you are the only one on the lookout for the next opportunity, you are at a disadvantage to those who have built up their networking community, made crisp and clear asks, and have put effort into their networks to help their networking partners solve problems and achieve goals.

Give more than you get, create a flow of action back towards you. People pay back what you pay forward.