5 Skills for Successful Job Search Networking
Having the right contacts can help you get information about the company and what they really want. Building your network is important, especially during your job search. Ideally you will already have some foundation for your network, but further developing it can help you find an opportunity. The following tips will hopefully provide advice for interacting with your network during your job search.
1. Don’t ask for a job (they don’t have one for you).
While most jobs come through personal connections, like those in your network, it is not likely that everyone in your network will recommend or offer you a job. Your network should be a two-way relationship. Instead of asking for a job, work on your elevator speech.
- Be clear about your employment goals.
- Do some careful self-assessment so you are able to communicate pertinent information about who you are, what you want, and what you can do for them.
- Prepare and practice.
2. Make it about them, not you.
Offer assistance to people in your network or new contacts you have made. It is much more likely that they will open to the idea of helping you later if you reach out to them first. Go out of your way for them, show interest, and make sure they remember you. The relationship needs to be built on trust. Once the foundation is stable, your contacts will think of you the next time an opportunity arises that you are fit for. Create quality relationships with people — don’t make a contact just to make a contact, actually have a relationship with them.
Make sure you don’t just reach out to people in your network when you need something. Try to contact at least two people from your network a week — check in and ask them questions in general about their well-being as well as offering to help them. Volunteer your services when appropriate.
Remember to say thank you. Write thank-you notes to any recruiters you meet with, referring to the conversation you had with them so they remember who you are. Emails, with un-abbreviated and appropriate content, are a fine way to say thank you to other people in your network. When you get the job or promotion you were working toward, don’t skimp on showing your appreciation, send flowers or a gift basket. Being thankful goes a long way.
3. Get outside your industry (your job function might be transferable).
Schedule and attend two or three networking events per month to find groups you want to join. Use those meetings to make network connections and build relationships. You should have business cards ready to hand out, but don’t be racing around to collect them. Be ready to exchange cards after a conversation. Make the connection, but don’t appear desperate. You want to be genuine, ask questions, and remember that you are trying to help them first. Stay positive and be aware of your body language to create a memorable conversation and to appear more approachable.
4. Ask for more contacts to reach out to.
Contacts within your network have a network of their own. If they mention people in the industry you are pursuing a position in, ask your contact to introduce you to them. After developing a good relationship with your contacts, you will be able to ask them things like:
“I would like to land the marketing manager job at XYZ company. Would you please introduce me to the VP of marketing and follow up with a recommendation phone call telling them why I am qualified for the position?”
You can also utilize social media — sites like Twitter and Facebook — to stay in touch with people after meeting in person. Social media can also be used to start networking with others, like people who currently work for a company you’re interested in being part of. As you grow your network, keep track of who you talk to, what you talk about, when you talked, and what the outcome of that conversation was. If you hold on to that list, you won’t run into any issues of confusion or forgetting communication with that contact.
5. Have a resume, but wait until you build a relationship before sending it.
This goes along with not asking for a job. People in your network don’t need your resume unless they have asked for it. Giving it to them without being prompted to can appear rude. You want to make sure your resume is up-to-date for job opportunities that arise, but don’t force it on people in your network. Presenting your contacts with a resume without being asked can also make you look desperate.
Networking can be a great way to find your perfect job. In general, you want to think long term regarding your network. Relationships don’t develop overnight – it takes time, patience, and dedication. Make a point to consistently meet with new people and people already in your network to start and develop those relationships. You should work on networking skills throughout your professional career and while job searching. Through your network, you can learn from others about the industry, profession, and the companies you are interested in. You shouldn’t discount the connections and opportunities that can come with building your network.
Image by supahkit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor