Networking is often overlooked, especially with introverts; the idea of going to an event alone, trying to balance a glass of wine and a plate of hors-d'oeuvres and shake a strangers hand while reciting all the strengths listed on your CV sounds excruciating, but successful networking isn’t a balancing act. It’s about making connections and valued relationships amongst fellow career goers to help you find a job.
Why Network to Find a Job?
Networking can help you get hired and grow your career. If a job position opens up the hiring manager is more likely to opt for a candidate that he knows has the relevant skills or ask a connection if they know of someone. According to a recent study conducted by Amazon best-selling author, LinkedIn Influencer and CEO Lou Adler, '55% of all jobs are filled through the hidden job market, a combination of internal promotions and networking'.
1. You Get in Early
There are many hidden jobs that someone in your network may know that hasn’t been made public yet; you could get in with a chance before anyone else. According to Forbes, 'about 80% of available jobs are never advertised'.
2. You Assess the Market
A network can keep you informed about the job market, even when you are not looking for work. This will help you to better establish your net-worth or to discover new opportunities that you may not have considered.
3. It's Essential for Switching Careers
If your passion lies in another industry that you don’t have experience in, a connection may be able to assist in the transition.
4. You Get Your Name Out There
Networking helps you become relevant and trust-worthy. When you apply for a job by application, you need to work extra hard to create a memorable first impression and it is often much harder to get a foot in the door. If you have achieved your application through networking then you have already overcome that first barrier.
5. It Decreases Time between Jobs
If you are in the position of being unemployed, job hunting through networking can lessen the time between successfully bagging a new position.
How Do You Nail Job Networking?
1. Be Proactive
Networking doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be active in your job search and get out and meet people. You can strike up a conversation with anyone you meet, whether it’s at the doctors, your local beauty parlour or at tradeshows.
2. Give as Much as You Can Get
Don’t go to networking events thinking “what can this person offer me?” Think about how you can help others. Forming relationships built on trust is one of the most important things about networking successfully.
3. Know Where to Go
Not knowing where to begin can be extremely daunting for most job seekers which can often result in them not starting at all. To find networking events near you can check Meetup and Eventbrite. When you meet someone you admire, ask them what other events they like, and then go to those, too. Hackathons like Startup Weekend are great for people that are just starting out in their new career.
4. Be a Good Listener
Most people are good at talking about themselves, but not great at listening to others. You’ll be surprised at how appreciated you are for simply listening to what others have to say instead of spending five minutes rambling on about your personal achievements.
5. Become the Type of Person Other People Want to Meet
Putting all your efforts into meeting people will do nothing for you if you don’t have anything interesting to offer. You need to invest time into becoming a person that people want to meet and want to know because you have something to offer. Figure out your niche and work on it before you begin networking.
6. Make a List of the Assets You Will Bring as a Prospective Employee
Before you go to a networking event, make a mental list of assets that you can offer an employee and remember these when you are working the room. Don’t try to force them into conversations; just let it flow naturally and drop them in if you can.
7. Join Professional Organisations
Finding organisations related to your current career or field is very important. You will have the opportunity to meet people with shared aspirations and will most likely bond with them quite fast over common interests.
Volunteering gives you a chance to mingle with like-minded people in a feel-good environment. It’s also an opportunity to develop and demonstrate new skills and build up your contact list.
9. Develop Your Networking Strategy
For people that lean on the introverted side, approaching strangers can be extremely nerve-wracking. If you have a clear strategy of what to say then you will feel much more relaxed. Think about how you want to describe who you are and what you do so it sounds effortless and confident. Always ensure you have a stack of business cards ready to hand out to whoever you meet and make sure that you take their card too. You don’t want to just leave the ball in their court.
10. Treat People Like Human Beings, Not Walking Job Leads
You are there to make relationships and connections. If you go in asking for a job, chances are you won’t get one and will blow your chances at making that important bond. Get to know the people on a personal level before asking for any kind of assistance.
11. Tell Stories
One great way to brand yourself as a worthy employee is to tell stories. Kevin Roach, recruiting expert at Texas A&M University offers this advice: 'Pick three good stories from your life, personal or work-related, and share what you learned from the experiences. A good story can illustrate multiple positive aspects about you as a person and as a potential employee'.
12. Mind Your Body Language
Body language is everything; make sure it’s open and inviting to others. Avoid being on your phone, stand tall and make eye contact with others. You can observe the room to see who else has an open body language and approach them first.
13. Don’t Linger
If you find that the conversation has come to a halt; don’t stick around. Say your goodbyes and walk around the room. You don’t want to leave a lasting impression of being the person that just wouldn’t go.
14. Team Up
If you really aren’t comfortable going to an event alone, recruit a friend to join you, but don’t spend the evening talking to the one person you know (you could have done that at home in your jammies!) Try to work the room together introducing each other to interesting people you have met.
15. Conduct Informational Interviews
You could also reach out to your connections and ask for some more information on the field. Remember that you’re not asking for a job but simple advice. Most connections will be more than happy to offer their expertise if you have built up a strong bond. CareerCast mentions that 'networking often goes bad because job seekers try to ask friends and strangers about specific job openings'.
16. Join or Start a Job Club
A job club can provide significant support and possible contacts. If you are recently unemployed join or create a club and network with members. You can share ideas on who’s hiring as well as tips for your job search.
17. Network on LinkedIn
18. Use Social Media
Other social media platform likes Twitter and Facebook are also important at building your personal brand and enticing new contacts. Make sure your online profiles are all consistent and relevant. If you're a university graduate, your university may have an alumni career network you can access on these platforms.
How to Stay In Touch
1. Write 'Thank You' Notes
Within 24 hours of the event, write a 'thank you' note to each recruiter you met. Be sure to reference any specific points or connections you made during your conversations with them so they remember who you are. During the event, you can make a note on their business card so you remember what you spoke to them about, which will help you in your email.
2. Don’t Panic
If you don’t hear back straight away – stay calm. Wait a week and then send another follow-up email. If you still haven’t heard from them in a month or so, don’t take offence. They are probably just busy, so don’t get angry at them as you may bump into them at a future event.
3. Keep a Relationship Going
If you’ve built a good bond and find that your contact is bouncing off you; keep in touch with articles or ideas and information you can offer them. If you are going to an event they would be interested in, invite them along – at least you will know one friendly face.
The key to finding a job through networking is to stay positive, friendly, hopeful and to use any opportunity you can get.
Have you found a job through networking? If so, we’d love to hear your story in the comments section below.