By now, you have heard this a hundred times that networking is one of the most important components of job searching. According to statistics, at least 60% or higher number of jobs are found only by networking. Even though the process of landing your dream job through smart networking is proven and successful, it can sound intimidating and sometimes seems a little bit scary. The good news – it doesn’t have to be.
When You Absorb:
Networking has the ability to open many doors at every stage of your career. Meeting and talking to the right people can earn you free advice, an awareness of your skills, positive word-of-mouth and more. It also the potential to gain you credibility, trust and, added knowledge and expertise.
What You Comprehend:
Networking when done right gradually gets you into the inner circle of various influencers – recruiters, HR teams, company heads and business groups. Plus in today’s day and age, your virtual profile and social media activities can open up exciting new opportunities to connect.
How You Can Excel:
The Informal Way: Make it a habit to constantly shake new hands – develop contacts with neighbours, college peers, people in associations – anyone who might help generate information. You can be direct and ask for job leads or be informal and ask for information and advice. Simply approach everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know.
The Formal Approach: Formal networking works too – keep your eyes open and attend all business gatherings and meetings. You’ll find that most of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards.
Prepare well before you attend. This includes doing your homework on what companies and what kinds of people will be attending and planning your agenda. Your appearance matters so dress professionally and be well-groomed.
Volunteer to work at the registration table where you can greet people as they come in or bring a friend to walk around the room with you – there’s security in numbers.
Conduct informational interviews with your contacts and ask for referrals for additional meetings. Follow through with referrals, and always thank people with a personal note or email.
Practice your ‘elevator pitch’. Be quick, concise and accurate when describing the strengths you can bring to the table. Ensure you engage your listener from the get-go and make it memorable.
Bring ample business cards. Make sure your card has all contact details and you have more than enough with you as they are a great way to exchange details, as well as allowing you a way of reconnecting the following day. One great little tip is to jot on the back of your card the time and place you met, so your new business contact remembers.
Listen more – there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. When you are open to listening, you will hear others share their needs and pain points, enabling you to tailor and pitch your skills as the solution to their concerns.
And finally, follow up within 48 hours. Don’t let those business cards lie idle. Act on making the most of your new connections and do so within 48 hours of attending the event. Even if you are super busy, make sure you make a phone call or send out a short individual email to everyone.
The Digital Approach – Social Media Networking
As well as networking the old fashioned way, use the internet to network. Social media career networking is still the top way people find new jobs in today’s economy.
Visit discussion boards like Job Search Forums to network with career professionals and job seekers. Visit sites like LinkedIn, Monster and the like that focus on online job search and career networking. Keep track of who you’ve emailed and where you have posted so you can follow up.
Clean up your profile and make sure it is consistent across all channels: review your description, background and experience on all the channels you use and make sure they are all up-to-date.
Expand your network by gradually adding people. Send friend requests to peers form college, previous employers and even acquaintances. The more people in your network, the better. Especially on LinkedIn, make sure that you are well connected with recruiters in your field.
When it comes to recommendation requests, approach former colleagues or your ex-managers carefully. Make sure to customize each request with a professional introduction – don’t send out mass letters to all. Also, do remember to follow up with a thank you note to the people who send you their recommendations.
Actively participate in conversations, join discussions and regularly “Like” or comment on others’ status updates or links. Be conscious of the tone and character of your messages on Facebook and other social media sites. Ensure that your posts and responses exude positivity.
Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to being more connected, more plugged in, and more efficient in your job hunt.