Anybody remember Boys from the Black Stuff?
An early 80s Alan Bleasdale drama that dates anyone who watched it, it starred Bernard Hill as Yosser Hughes.
Yosser used the worst networking style you could imagine – he would normally open the conversation “Gizza job, I can do that”. He topped it off with a head-butt for anyone who didn’t.
There are much more subtle ways, especially if you are approaching people who you have known well. Nearly everybody, even if you are old mates, will feel embarrassed if you approach them and ask them if they have a job.
They will feel especially embarrassed if they do have one but you are not right for it, or if they just can’t offer you one. And so they may not reply and hope that you go away.
But most people are always open to helping their old friends. So anybody who approaches them asking for helpful contacts or places to look creates no embarrassment. At worst you are happy to reply and say you don’t really know anybody at the moment but will keep your eye out. Or alternatively they will genuinely know somebody who is looking or who is worth talking to.
Once you have opened the conversation they might decide actually you’ve changed, you’ve matured and you have the right experience that might help them out. And as they know you they know your strengths and your weaknesses but know you are genuine.
In any case, the indirect approach nearly always works well in networking. The direct one rarely does. And old acquaintances are the best place to start looking.