Are you finding that the job search is a full-time job? I can hear you saying it now, “yeah a full-time job with no pay and little reward!” But, there is a better way– or at least a way to find a reward much faster. So, what’s the answer to saving time and making fast tracks towards your goal of a new job? Networking.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. In fact, CNBC says that “70% of all jobs are not published publicly on jobs sites and as much as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections.”
It’s pretty clear that networking is one of the most crucial parts of the job search process. It’s key to meeting your professional goals and it’s like a treasure hunt; you know the result will be worth it, but you don’t always know where you’ll strike gold.
Great networkers gain access to important details about the companies they want to work for from the inside out and expose emerging opportunities, a.k.a jobs that are not yet on the job sites.
Who Should You Network With?
So, what is networking? It’s building a support system with people who share common interests, where everyone shares information and services.
Groups of people with a common interest can range from anyone who attended the same college or university to members of a shared faith, running or bicycling clubs, clients, vendor contacts, previous co-workers, etc. Look at your life and look at who you communicate with. Do any of these people offer insight into companies that you’d like to explore as your next employer? Do they know people who know what you want to know?
Some of the questions you can ask yourself about the people you want to have in your network are:
- If they’re on LinkedIn, can you endorse them for a skill on their profile? Most people appreciate being endorsed by someone and will likely return the favor.
- Are there any former colleagues who you can reach out to with a brief message to find out where they are now?
- Are there alumni from your university who have a similar industry/career role as you? Even if you didn’t know each other, you still share common experiences.
- Are there people at target organizations who have roles that you want? Can you connect with them and build a mini-network of people in your field?
How Do I Network?
While networking online has some disadvantages, it’s easier, more flexible, and saves time. In fact, Forbes states that 92% of people prefer online networking because it saves time. With that in mind, here are some great networking tips that have worked for others:
- Be brief and to the point. – Keep your connection requests friendly, courteous, and brief. You can assume that everyone is busy with work and life. And if they’re working at a popular company, they’re probably receiving many connection requests every day!
- Establish a rapport. – Essentially, share the human experience, “Hi Adam, Joe Smith here! I recently applied for ABC’s Queen of the Universe position. Hope you’re weathering the recent snowstorms okay! I know you’re very busy, but I’d welcome a brief chat about ABC Company, your role, and the ABC culture. Thanks for your consideration, Joe.”
- Find common ground. – If you have an acquaintance that you want to network with, but you haven’t spoken with them in a while, start with common ground. Do you share a previous employer, school, or interest?
Here’s an example: “Hi Beverly, Rachel here! I came across your profile while searching for Content Writer positions and remembered our time together at Botanical Beautiful! Remember the time we all dressed up like Fred? I hope you and your family have weathered the pandemic okay. I’m assuming you’re very busy in your new role with XYZ so I’m leaving the link to my website and asking you to keep me in mind if you know of any Content Writer roles in Milwaukee or remote positions. Likewise, if I can be of help to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Warmly, Rachel.”
Ask for referrals. – This is a great conversation starter about what you’re seeking and what they are doing now. According to a survey by LinkedIn, 35% of participants said that a casual conversation on the platform led to a new opportunity.
Where Do I Start?
Networking can feel overwhelming, especially now that most of it is happening online. Start small. Make a list of your target companies, and then cross-reference your social networks for key contacts who can make introductions to people working at your future employer. If you don’t have a target company, search your network for people with job roles you want, and ask about their companies. Remember, LinkedIn has over 810 million members, so your network can only grow.
Networking can also feel awkward online, sometimes even more so than small talk at networking events. So, focus on the person rather than yourself. Let your curiosity about who they are, what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it lead the way.
Don’t be an energy vampire. Don’t offer details about why you are on the market, how hard your life has been, or why you don’t deserve to be unemployed– be the person who is striving for what’s next.
Networking no longer means putting on your best professional fashion and circulating the room with handshakes and smiles. From the comfort of your couch, you can use your social networks to explore and interact with others who might offer a hand in making job search results a reality. Just start typing.
Contact ECP today for more information on how to build your professional brand and network.