While experts may debate the exact percentage, you should know by now that the majority of professional jobs today are filled not through published advertisements, but via personal networking.

Not only do employers value the extra credibility involved when hiring through word-of-mouth referrals, they also appreciate the lower recruitment cost and greater likelihood an individual will fit well with their organizational culture.

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Regardless, many job seekers continue to be uncomfortable with the networking process and asking other people for help, favors, and introductions.

For some, the challenge centers around how to ask for assistance in the right way or to characterize their situation without seeming desperate. For others, the reluctance to network comes down to pride and a feeling they should be able to get a job based on their credentials alone, without relying on relationships.

So the question arises—what can networking-averse job seekers do to get over this hurdle and gain access to the two-thirds of all opportunities that will be filled through personal referrals?

Have a clear networking goal.

Do you want to ask the person to submit your résumé into the employee referral system in their company? Would you like the person to forward your credentials to the hiring manager within their company? What else? Once you have a goal in mind, the rest will fall into place.

Build a networking plan.

Create lists of prospective contacts you want to make in the following categories:

  • Active contacts who can help you; those are people you are regularly in touch with or they are familiar with you.
  • Lapsed contacts you need to re-kindle.
  • Industry organizations, affiliates, and business groups you need to explore.
  • Research you need to do to find new contacts, in certain companies or having certain titles, for example

Use networking methods you are most comfortable with.

You don’t have to go to big events to exchange business cards when you’d rather be home alone. You can do a lot via e-mail and LinkedIn…amazing work once you learn how. If you are calling someone, script your call beforehand. Most likely you will get voicemail anyway so read from your script!

Network for long-term relationship-building.

The definition of networking is “connecting to build 2-way relationships for the long term.” Simple, right? The concept is simple and powerful, but the tragedy today is that most people are missing the key actions required to be courteous, genuine and, frankly, respectful. I don’t believe people are “using” others intentionally. It’s just that they’re not thinking enough about the other person AND they’re not making time to follow up and continue the relationship.

Take risks, change your networking game, and remember: “Success doesn’t happen alone!”

I’m on your team to see success FAST! Contact me to discuss the Job Search Master Class and private coaching at any time.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Alumna Dana Manciagli '84 is the author of "Cut the crap, Get a job". With her 'Career Mojo' column, Dana is the sole syndicated career columnist for the Business Journal nationwide. Her remarkable profile includes a career in global sales and marketing for Fortune 500 corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Kodak. She has coached, interviewed and hired thousands of job seekers. This article was originally published on her website.