When you think of networking you probably imagine stuffy gatherings where business cards are passed between bigwigs trying to strike million dollar deals. However, networking is perfect for job seekers too as, not only do people like to work with people that they know and like, or who have been recommended to them, but the hidden job market is bigger than you probably think. So, how do you network?
The good news is that you already know how to do it. At its simplest, networking is all about getting to know people and building relationships with them. You’re networking every day without even realising it and you never know just which of these connections could be the one to help you move your job search forward.
Try these tips for networking your way to a new job.
Tip One. Make a list of all the people in your network
You know more people than you think whether you’re aware of it or not and you never know which of these will be able to offer you some advice or point you towards a job vacancy. Think of:
- friends (don’t forget your social media ‘friends’ too)
- colleagues (past and present)
- members of clubs that you belong to
- professional organisations
And don’t forget, each of these people will have their own network that you can tap into so your network will naturally grow and grow.
Making small talk about your job search with your dentist’s receptionist might not seem like a big deal but you don’t know who she has in her own network.
Tip Two. Make contact
You might have a huge network after making the list in tip one but, if no one knows you’re looking for a job then all your work has been for nothing. So, once you’ve drawn up your list, start to contact them – and be specific. A generic request can be worse than no request at all. So, if there’s a specific company you want to work for let people know – you might just be surprised by who they know.
Don’t worry if you feel nervous or uncomfortable – people are generally only too pleased to help and will more than likely be happy to offer their assistance if they can.
Tip Three. Work on building relationships
Don’t forget that networking is all about give and take – if you haven’t spoken to an ex-colleague for some time make sure that you don’t forget the niceties when you reconnect. Don’t just get in touch to ask for help and then let them slip off your radar again. Be considerate and you’ll be more likely to hear from them when they have any information. If you disappear once you’ve got what you want from them they’ll be less likely to help in the future.
Don’t forget to give feedback too – make sure you thankeveryone who helps you and keep them updated on your progress.
Tip Four. Go for quality over quantity
If your network runs to hundreds of connections but, for all your hard work, you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you might need to reconsider it. It’s better to have fewer connections of a higher calibre than a long list of weaker ones.
Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses in your network can lead you to new opportunities and, ultimately, a better basis for your job search.
Tip Five. Don’t forget the maintenance
Maintaining your job network is just as important as building it. Making connections should be your priority so schedule time with your key contacts in your diary but don’t forget about them once you’ve spoken to them. The key to successful networking is to remember it’s a two-way street so you must give as well as receive. If you can successfully nurture these relationships at the job search stage you’ll have a strong network of people you can call on later in your career.
International Networking Week starts on 6th February so, if you’re looking for a new opportunity, why not put these dates in your diary and start your networking in earnest.
In the meantime, why not download a copy of my e-book ‘5 Steps to Job Search Success’?