Career networking is about working a network of people you know and who know you; it has the highest rate of success when looking for a job over other methods. Even with its high success rate, many job seekers don’t immediately use networking until they are far into their job search and frustrated with the lack of results from other methods. Many are shy and feel networking is asking for a handout, are embarrassed about the situation they’re in, or don’t know how to use networking effectively. Networking for a job is to nurture relationships to lean on for getting ideas, advice, information, leads, and hopefully, referrals for jobs. Whether you’re unemployed, looking for a promotion, relocating, looking to change careers or companies; networking needs to be a part of your job search strategy.
Have you ever heard the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” and have you wondered if this was an accurate statement? Well, this statement holds a lot of truth, especially in the job search arena and how well you know someone is just as important. The better you know someone, the more likely they will want to assist in your job search. A network is more than a list of contacts in your phone or email address book, it starts with contacts of all types, and you need to work on strengthening these connections continually. It is hard to reach out to a contact you haven’t communicated to in years and expect them to share a job lead. You need to stay in touch with those in your network to build strength and trust.
Today when people speak of networking, they automatically think it needs only to take place online. Not true, even though networking online is a practical modern way to stay connected and communicate, networking takes many forms. We will admit that with today’s use of cell phones, smartphones and people listening to music with their headphones; meeting people during our daily activities has shrunk a great deal and meeting people is vital in growing your network. When you are networking for a job, you need to take advantage of every interaction you have with someone, as they can share a job lead or referral.
You can be building your network when you:
- Speak with salespeople who visit your office
- Re-connect with former colleagues on sites like www.Linkedin.com, www.xing.com or www.ryze.com
- Strike up conversations while waiting in line at a store, restaurant, or waiting at the airport.
- Interact with other parents at your kid’s sports events and school functions.
- Volunteer with community events, local schools, company functions, church events, or fundraisers.
- Search out friends (current and former) on sites like www.twitter.com or www.facebook.com
- Attend professional meetings, conferences or conventions
- Attend job and career fairs or join any job/career clubs in your community
- Take part in online discussion boards; many recruiters search these for candidates
- Start talking to everyone you meet, you never know when you will get a job lead
Tips and Advice on Networking for a Job
- Be prepared – Before you start networking, you need to be prepared with; business resume cards, cover letters, resumes, interview attire, and be up-to-date on your interviewing skills. The worst thing to happen when you’re networking is if someone needs something from you and you’re not ready to provide it; you will blow that opportunity and future help from this contact.
- Your resume – Even if you get a networked referral for a great job opening, not having a well-crafted resume that markets you and sells your potential to the employer, can destroy your chances of getting the position.
- Resume Business Cards – When you are job networking handing out your Resume Business Card can create job leads or referrals just from a casual meeting.
- Stay in touch – Find creative ways to stay in touch with your contacts. Every time you enter a connection to your list, you should include some important facts about them include any birthdays or other important dates. Meet for coffee or a quick lunch, use the phone, email, or even send a card on special occasions to stay in touch. People like to share and help people they know.
- Your stack of old business Cards – Many of us has a pile of old business cards we have acquired over the years. Go through these cards and reach out to those who can assist in any aspect of your job search.
- Don’t ask for a job – When you’re networking with people you know, ask for a reference, and not a job. Let them know you’re making a career change or hitting the pavement with your job search. Let them know what your plans are and what type of job you’re suited for, then ask them if you can use them as a reference when needed during your job search, don’t ask them for a job. This will break the ice of the awkward feeling of actually asking for a job, especially when they currently don’t know of one; it will allow them to say “yes you can use me as a reference.” This will make them feel good about helping you and let them know you value them enough to be used as a reference. This will take a negative situation and place a positive spin on it while keeping good communications open. This approach will have better results, and if they do know of a job opening, they will gladly share it with you.
- New Contacts – The above method doesn’t work with contacts you have just made or don’t know well, with new connections you can be more direct and let them know you’re in the market for a job opportunity and any ideas they can share with you would be much appreciated.
- Staying positive – If you’re networking face to face or on the phone, you need to have a positive attitude and don’t let any negative thoughts, comments, or gestures come through. If you are networking online or in written form, your words need to project a positive vibe and no negativity. Even if your past company screwed you over, made you retire or you’ve been looking for a job for a long time, don’t include this negative situation. Be positive and enthusiastic about your job search; nobody wants to recommend or hire negativity.
- Follow up – After you meet with a contact, it’s advised to send them a thank you note. Express your appreciation for their help or advice; even high-level executives like to feel appreciated. This will also open the communication gates and can lead to more support down the road.
- Give more than you take – By nature, people like to pay back people who have helped them. Share with your contacts any help, advice, or job leads. If someone gives you a lead try and provide two job leads. You might even be able to donate your time and assistance to a cause or organization where they belong.
- Know your boundaries – Don’t call contacts at home or out of business hours if you don’t have that level of relationship with them. If you wouldn’t expect them to call you outside of business hours, then don’t call them.
- Sending your resume – If someone gives you the name of a hiring manager, don’t assume you can send them a resume. Ask your contact what the appropriate method is to contact this person or if they can initiate the first communication with the hiring manager.
- Say thank you – Don’t forget to say thank you for any help, don’t just use email, a phone call once in a while can build more value.
Networking with Linkedin
Networking with social media websites has become extremely popular. The most popular sites are Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but there are hundreds of social media sites online. Be aware of when searching for a job, your online profile can reflect whether you get an interview or job offer. Many companies are now looking at candidate’s profiles and information on social media websites to gain more insight into potential employees. In some states, it is legal for an employer to ask the candidate for access to view their online profile; currently, laws have not caught up to technology. This means your online profiles need to also market you as the best candidate for the company you’re interviewing. Many people share every aspect of their personal life online, which can hurt their chances with some companies.
Linkedin is a social networking site geared towards your professional life and history; it has become an essential tool in searching for jobs or career advances. It’s become so powerful if you’re not on LinkedIn with your professional profile you can be doing your jobs search a great injustice. Today many companies hiring look for a cover letter, resume, and then your LinkedIn profile and many companies recruit candidates through LinkedIn profiles and post jobs directly on LinkedIn.
Contacts on LinkedIn– There are over 131 million people on LinkedIn so chances are you will find many people from your professional career whom you can contact (coworkers, ex-coworkers, bosses, subordinates, clients, classmates). Linkedin allows you to possibly connect to everyone you professionally have worked and done business with, by searching for contacts by name, company, or industry. Reaching out to contacts who know you professionally can open many doors for your career or job search. You will also find the profiles of your friends and family members that you can connect to professionally.
Linkedin Profile – Today, your LinkedIn profile is just as important as your resume, and many predict in the future many companies will use a LinkedIn profile instead of a resume. Your profile needs to be a marketing tool to showcase your value to future employers; it should not be a duplicate of your resume but add to its market value. You need to take advantage of this free advertising that sells “you” and maximize this prime marketing tool.
You have more space on LinkedIn than on a resume to share more information and details about your professional history; this will give a more in-depth view of you to the employer. Your profile should have the core information of your resume but needs to be presented in a new creative way showing more personality and individuality.
At Career Thinker, we offer a professionally written LinkedIn profile service that will set you apart from the pack. Most people fill in the information on LinkedIn as they would on a job application which adds nothing to their marketability.