Network your way into your next job
They say to be successful, it’s not about “what” you know, but “who” you know…
Being at the right time and place, and knowing the right people can
perhaps do more for your career than spending hours faxing or
distributing your CV online to countless companies.
The majority of jobs out there are occupied by people who simply “networked” their way into it… They were just connected to the right
people and got the job through word-of-mouth and good relationships.
Networking is, basically, building relationships with anyone that can help you find the job you desire. It’s fostering continuous conversation with these valuable connections to put you in touch with great job opportunities that you otherwise would not have access to.
A great deal of jobs, and usually some of the best opportunities, are not publicly advertised. These jobs are normally filled internally or by people the employer are personally acquainted and impressed with. The only way to know about and have a chance at landing these types of jobs is through networking.
Advertised vacancies also receive an untold number of response from possible candidates. Networking can help you to distinguish yourself from the crowd, and cut the “schlep” of background screening and interviewing.
Start with preparing…
If you are serious about networking, it’s important that you prepare well for the process. Here are a few steps you can follow:
- First things first… Get your mind focussed. Networking will require a lot of dedication, time and “savvy”. Make a conscious decision that you are going to follow through on your networking plan and connect with whoever it takes to find a job.
- Know what your ideal job is, as well as your career goals. Ask yourself questions like: “Which company do I want to work for?” “What position do I want to work in?” “Where do I want to be in 5 years’ time?” This will tell you who the important contacts in your network will be.
- Make a proper list of your current network. You may already know a lot of people and have connections that are more valuable for your career than you realise. Keep their names, positions, companies they work for, and contact details in your list.
- Make a list of new connections you need in your network. Taking your job requirements and career goals into consideration, make a list of people that could get you closer to it. Chances are also good that you already have people in your current network, who could introduce you to new valuable connections. Draw a “network map” that shows how your current network could connect you to people you still want to meet.
- Get your CV in order. With networking, you never know when you’ll need to provide your CV. It’s usually at the most unexpected times. Whether you need to create a new or update an old CV, get it ready to be sent off.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and what you can contribute to a company. This will make networking easier, as you’ll be able to “sell” yourself when the opportunity presents itself.
Networking does NOT mean spending hours cold-calling and pestering or begging people to give you a job. No, networking is, rather, using conversation to acquire valuable information, advice or job leads from either casual or formal connections.
Casual connections in your network would, for example, include friends, family, neighbours, current and ex-colleagues, teachers, and university alumni, whereas your formal network would have industry associates, references from previous jobs etc.
To give yourself a proper shot at landing a job, you are going to have to get in contact with everyone in your network. You never know who might be connected to whom and open fantastic “doors” for your career…
This means making phone calls, going to business seminars, attending social or family gatherings, sending emails, using social media, online forums, whatever it takes to connect with significant people. LinkedIn, for example, is a great tool for connecting with industry associates.
Again, networking is all about conversation and exchange of information, without putting people under any obligation to help you. The key thing is to play it “cool”. You don’t want to destroy your network, by being over-persistent and annoying. However, in conversation, whether it’s social or formal, mention that you are hunting for a job, and are aware that the person you are conversing with might have some job leads or valuable tips you could benefit from.
Don’t be afraid of networking. Most people are willing to share information if they know that it might help someone. You might even meet someone who will be able to offer you a job on the spot, so be confident, expectant and friendly.
If you enjoyed this article on how to network your way into your next job, you might find the following posts insightful:
1. How to look for a new job while you are employed
2. 10 Common Cover Letter bloopers to avoid
3. 10 tips for aspiring freelance photographers
4. Get that job… Let your body “speak” the right language