Networking Strategy

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The networking process

Many jobs never get posted. Many organizations find candidates through connections that their employees or recruiters have. Many people get jobs through references and referrals by insiders. Here are some tips on how you can dip into this pool of undiscovered jobs and land a postion without having to go to the likes of Monster.com.

To get into this circle of people passing job tips and referring each other to great positions, you need to be part of various networks. Learning to network is not hard but requires some action. Some more action than clicking your mouse from behind a screen.

Top view of business people with their hands together

Networking is not a project you start and run just to get a job, networking is a process a way of moving through your personal and professional life while staying in contact with your friends and acquaintances throughout the groups you belong to.

People will not be inclined to network with you if you only ask for a job and do not participate any other way. Once you immerse yourself in your network, it becomes more effective and you’ll start to get reactions from people about your work and your aspirations and ambitions. It is Key that you continue your network throughout your career and continue to participate, it is your best safety net for the times when you need people to stand by you and vouch for you in order to get you that great position.

Sources

Let’s first look at what groups you probably are associated with that can be part of your network:

LIVE:

  • Family; certainly via the inlaws, cousins, partners of siblings and their siblings, this can grow into a sizable network
  • Friends; time to catch up with them!
  • Church; your choir buddies or ministry friends
  • School; your old high school friends and their partners, college friends and their partners
  • Your kid’s school Parent Teacher Organization
  • Associations; professional associations, leisure association, your bookclub, diving group or other soccer team
  • The Gym; lots of shoptalk happens during a run or after a workout, be prepared and carry your tools
  • Vendors; your hairdresser, nail polish lady, doctor, therapist, career coach, dentist; Yes while you are interacting with them mention your plans and see how they react
  • Colleagues, although I hesitate to get too close with your current team about your plans to move on but former colleagues at another company can be a great source of contacts and help. They have already done what you plan to do so ask them about it. Also colleagues from a company where you used to work can be powerful allies in the job search.
  • Recruiters and HeadHunters, stay in touch with them, send them resumes from friends that may be able to fit into positions they are looking to fill, become a friendly source for them.

Online:

The question with lots of networks online is how effective they are for our purpose. Certainly you can reach a large group of people but effectively networking online is difficult if you do not have any other relationship with the people in that particular network. So forget Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat, but look at some other networks that may help:

Some online networks are perfect for networking like LinkedIN and Execunet. These network sites make it possible to connect with people through others who know them. Also you can actively participate in forum postings and make yourself known that way.

Facebook may have a large overlap with the LIVE groups above and the same for Twitter, although twitter is a great job search tool.

Meetup is a bit of a hybrid as it is an online community but they organize real physical meetings for professionals. Network after work is similar and brings together people who want to network.

 Nextdoor is a community with verified neighbors in your community, although you may not know them very well, you know that they are somewhere close and they could give you great tips about jobs in your area.

Tools

Your tools are:

  • Your elevator speech, check our interview page to refresh your memory on that.
  • Your business card, this can be a very simple little card with your details, get them cheap HERE or HERE.
  • Your resume, go to our resume page to review the information there on how to build it.

You should really avoid going anywhere without these tools. You never know when you encounter someone who may be able to help.

Tactics

If you are anything like me you don’t like to ask for help and don’t like to blow your own horn. So networking is a chore and difficult. It is time consuming, you end up getting lots of information that you really could do without but you need to retain most of it or your network people will get upset that you forgot their great story. 

To ease into the networking start with emailing your friends and family (personal and not as a group email) and give them an update on your situation and that you are looking for new opportunities.

Look at the calendars from every organization you are a member of and sign up for any and all the webinars, lunches, meetings, may be a course etc. The more people you meet the more you’ll talk with people the more opportunities you’ll have to sell your elevator speech and leave a card.

Stay for coffee after mass this time and don’t run home for coffee. Introduce yourself to a few people and get familiar with what they do, then add your story.

People generally love it when you ask them about their situation. They will gladly fill you in with sometimes surprising amounts of details. After you have listened for a while you then provide them with a short and sweet version of your elevator speech. Make sure they understand you are looking for something and what that is and ensure they have your contact details.

People that you know better and that you have worked with you can approach and ask them for a reference. They usually would feel flattered and agree to be a reference for you and then you can also bring up in general what you are looking for.

Volunteer your time for other people. When you know someone needs a hand with something, help them out. People will be grateful and will be glad to listen to your short story. Because you have done something for them they’ll be more inclined to actually call you when they think of an opportunity.

As soon as you have a number of contacts, keep following up, keep going to those meetings, keep commenting on LinkedIN articles, keep talking to your family and friends, in general live the networking life. Don’t stop after you get hired! You will need your network in the future again, I promise.

For some further reading check out the site about networking at careerrealism