By Lisa Parker

When looking for work, most people realize professional contacts can help open doors and secure interviews. Guess what else they can do? The contacts you have strong relationships with can help you negotiate a higher salary. Many fail to consider and sell the potential value of the professional relationships they have to prospective employers. Don’t make this mistake! It took me a while to figure this out in my own career. Now I’m fully aware if a company hires me they are essentially getting my Rolodex right along with me.

So, have you taken stock of your professional relationships? Are you aware of who you know who may help a prospective employer grow his business, solve a problem or accomplish a goal? Do the decision makers you interview with ever hear about who you know and how those connections would benefit them? Get comfortable with the idea. It is reasonable to expect employers to pay you for who you know and make sure you are giving this element of your worth due consideration.

Keeping in mind the value contacts bring to professional worth, it makes sense for job seekers not only take stock of who they are connected to in the present, but weigh who they should try to connect to for the future. This is something easy to work on while looking for a job. If you’re doing things right, you’re already networking to increase your visibility and professional reach during your search. Take it up a notch and think strategically. Don’t just focus exclusively on contacts you have now, or are meeting through networking, who are capable of getting you closer to a job. Also consider who could make you more valuable once you have a job. What types of contacts would the companies you want to work for love for you to have? Seek out and build relationships with those contacts. Only good can come from expanding your professional network.

At the end of the day, be aware of the value of the professional relationships you’ve worked hard to develop. They matter.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


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