Asking friends and former colleagues for assistance with your job search is without a doubt an awkward thing for many job seekers, but it’s worth the time and effort..

What’s important to know For generations, Americans found available career opportunities in the local newspaper’s help wanted section. However, classifieds and other traditional sources of job information have largely vanished, leaving no tool more important than networking.

When it comes to networking, your person’s friends must be included as part of your network.

The approach to use with friends can vary from situation to situation, and it should. Some friends can be asked for direct referrals to hiring managers whereas others may know staffing professionals and executive recruiters. There will also be friends that will opt to introduce you themselves while others will prefer to work behind the scenes with information about opportunities.

One way to start this process is to list the companies you have an interest in and then used LinkedIn or a similar online source to see who you may know that either works there now or did previously. You may also have contacts that know individuals who already work or do business with the firms on your list.

Another approach is to brainstorm a list of people who you know that have lots of connections. Lawyers, accountants, professors, sales people, business owners, and clergy all have an extensive network of contacts. Very often these professionals are asked by their contacts to refer solid candidates to them.

In a “Pay It Forward” world many friends you have will want to refer you to potential employers.

Here’s a sample of an email you can adapt to your situation and send to your friends:

Hello John,

I hope this quick note finds you well. I’m seeking your assistance in my career search. Please keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities that may fit my experience. For the last four years I have been the manager of the marketing department at American Widgets, Inc, the premier distributor widgets and widget related products in Cleveland. You may also remember that I was previously with Widget Development International in Toledo where I ran the sales department and organized trade show participation. Also, can you recommend any recruiters that it would make sense for me to reach out to? Thank you in advance for your help. My cell phone number is XXX-555-0000.

You can also use this note and message your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? ResumeEdge’s experts can help you craft a LinkedIn profile that will be a solid networking tool and will be optimized so recruiters can find you quickly.