Why Is Networking Important to Job Seekers?
“Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get an “in” at the company you’d like to work in.” (Alison Doyle, The Balance)
Job searching is more than submitting your resume to an ad and waiting for a reply. Statics show 80% of available jobs are never posted. They’re called “hidden jobs.” You find them by developing the right contacts. According to a LinkedIn Report:
“80 percent of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success.”
Here are some useful articles about networking your way into a job:
“Don’t just contact those who can help when you have just been laid-off from your job or decide you want to look for a new position. Keep in touch with your network regularly – even if it’s just a brief email to say hello and to ask how they are doing. People are more willing to help when they know who you are.”
“…write out our accomplishments, to help us identify what our benefits will be to a potential employer; how we are going to solve their problems and make them money.”
In other words, networking helps you find what you’re good at and why.
“We tend to see those who have seemingly stumbled into a cushy job as “lucky.” But the truth is, these individuals most likely spent countless hours and loads of energy networking and following up with others who helped them get where they are today.”
“…make networking a habit, not something you do only when you need a job. By including this practice in your normal routine, you’ll automatically increase your chances of hearing about opportunities. So make a point of staying in regular touch with former colleagues and always adding new LinkedIn connections.”
Networking is not all about walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself, at least not all of it. You can do most of your networking online and mostly through LinkedIn. Here are some ways to make networking less painful:
First of all, how do you find places to network with people. LinkedIn is a good online place. Attending a meetup is good for off-line networking. Meetup.com has groups for all kinds of interests. If you want to get into marketing, there’s a professional meetup for that. Similarly, libraries have job search workshops. Attend one and be friendly to the person next to you.
Go Easy on Yourself
I’m an introvert. I don’t enjoy networking and, I mess up…more than a few times. One networking event may not go well for you, learn from it and try again.
Smile and Look People in the Eye
If you find yourself at a networking event, just smile and look people in the eye. Do this and they may start a conversation with you.
Use Online Groups
Join a LinkedIn group and add something meaningful to the conversation. If someone posts a question related to your expertise, answer them. I find it easier to interact through a screen than face-to-face. Often, people in these groups will post jobs not advertised on sites like Indeed.
Ask Family and Friends
You might find it easier to approach people you know rather than complete strangers. Nothing wrong with asking friends and family members to keep an ear out for new job opportunities. One of my friends submitted my resume to their boss right when a new job was posted, making me the first in line. A family member got me a phone interview.
Attend a Career Event With a Friend
I find I’m more open to people around me, more relaxed, if I’m at an event with someone I know, especially if that person is more talkative than I am. They do most of the work.
If you trip over your words, prepare what you’re going to say beforehand. Research all the companies you plan to approach at a fair and practice what you’re going to say to each of them. Look up opening lines for networking events and practice them until it feels natural.
Talk Only to a Few People at a Time
It can get overwhelming if you plan to talk to 10 or 20 people at an event. You can go to a networking event and connect with only person as long as they’re the right person.
If you have a networking event to attended, reward yourself with something fun afterwards. This way your focus won’t be on dread, it’ll be on what you’re going to do afterwards. You’re be more likely to work hard. You’ll want to earn that reward.
Do you have any questions about networking? Ask in the comments!