If you want to change careers, you better be networking. Studies estimate as much as 80 percent of all jobs are gotten via some sort of referral process. Forget those online job boards, the moment the ATS (applicant tracking system) recognizes you don't have the exact experience for the job, you get tossed. Most of the time a human eye never even saw your resume. Your only shot to getting into a new industry or type of work is to use your connections so you can get in front of an actual person.

When it comes to your career, your network is your net worth.

LinkedIn has proved that most of us are just three degrees of separation away from someone who works at a company we'd like to work for. They refer to them as "weak ties" and they are the ones that open doors and can get you in front of someone who would be willing to listen to why you'd be a great addition to the team - in spite of the fact you don't have the exact experience needed. With this information in mind, here's one tip that's proven to get you a new career faster...

Network outside your industry.

Meeting people who are in different industries and do different types of work from yourself not only provides you with a better understanding of other careers, it also widens your network in new directions. Just because you're in healthcare, doesn't mean you shouldn't spend time getting to know people in engineering or marketing. Those people have friends, family, and significant others who just might be in the career you aspire to transition to. You'll never learn that if you don't make new colleagues outside your current career focus.

There are lots of ways to do this, some include:

  • Volunteering on a non-profit board
  • Attending local business events
  • Taking a continuing education class or certification

The key is to get out of your comfort zone and try to meet people you don't already know.

Dread the idea of this? Maybe you aren't ready for a career change.

I realize networking with strangers can feel stressful, but how badly do you want to change careers? Get over your fear and remember why you are doing this. Only you can control your career happiness. Failing to expand your network because it makes you uncomfortable is a sign you aren't ready to do what it takes to find greater professional satisfaction.