Networking for job hunting or career progression is an essential step in a good plan. However, the very idea of networking causes many to recoil or cringe. Beads of sweat grace the brow while just thinking about it. However, networking doesn’t have to be painful. The truth of the matter is, many people have the wrong idea about what it is and how to go about it. Whether you want to build more of a LinkedIn network or you want to make some in person connections, we have some tips to take away a bit of the stress.
Rethinking Networking for Job Hunting and Career Progression
First of all, most of times the idea of building up a network causes so many job seekers agony because they have the wrong idea about it. Instead of thinking about networking as a strategy to meet more people, think about networking as a chance to learn more about others. It can be tough to put yourself out there while looking for a job. The thing is, yes, it is uncomfortable making new friends for the sole reason of getting a job. But, if you go into the situation wanting to learn, you will take the stress and pressure off of yourself.
You may think that this will be a waste of time and counter productive. However, people will remember you more for taking an interest in them rather than just trying to introduce yourself. People will remember if you paid attention to what they had to say, maintained eye contact and asked follow up questions. This works in a variety of settings. Whether you are at a hiring fair or you are trying to make new connections at a business meetup, showing an interest in others is always the way to go. Not only do you make them feel valued, they don’t get the cringy impression that you are just trying to get something out of them.
A Few Strategies for Talking to People at Networking Events
Again, your purpose is to find out more about others. Some people are so self absorbed that they may not even ask you what you do or any other questions for that matter. That is okay. Come up with your initial question and variations of it. What do you do in your role? What is your company culture like? How many years have you been practicing WYZ?
Make an effort to remember names. The best way to remember names is to tie something to the person. Derek Henderson was very tall. Matthew Regalado was very outgoing. This is a great strategy if you know you are going to come in contact with the same people at another event. It will help you to build rapport.
Consider focusing or targeting people or organizations that you can offer a service to, rather than the other way around. Think about the worth you bring to the table and view yourself as an asset. If you have something to offer, don’t be shy to bring it up. This may cost you time and energy, but it can be worth it in the long run.
Everyone either loves or completely avoids LinkedIn. This is for several reasons. Many feel that connecting online is shallow or not very valuable time spent. However, LinkedIn is a great resource for jobs, information and meeting people. The networking aspect of the professional social media site is just one facet to the platform.
Posting to Your Timeline
Posting to your timeline is much like Facebook, but on a professional level. You won’t find too many funny memes or angry political rants. Instead the post are job related and informative. When you post something or reply to someone else’s post, your network of connections can all see. This is a great way to display your expertise in your industry or niche. This is also a great way to keep your name on the forefront of people’s mind. For instance, as a resume writer, I post a great deal of info on career progression and job searching. So, my hope is that people will recognize my expert knowledge. Hopefully, when one of my first connections gets asked, “Do you know any good resume writers,” my name will pop up.
The first thing you want to do is let LinkedIn use your email address book to connect with people you already know. This is a great way to get a lot of first hand connections with people that already know you and know that you offer a specific expertise. Secondly, be sure to connect with current and previous colleagues. These are people that have actually worked with you and know your work ethic. From here, you can start connecting with people you don’t know through conversations on articles, searching people in your industry and so on. Once you get a good following going you can start adding people you meet in person from networking events.
Activate Your In Person Connections
One thing that too many job seekers don’t realize is the fact that nearly 50 percent of jobs available on the market are not listed anywhere online. With so many job seekers available, employers are getting more choosy about who they interview. There is no need to create a job posting, weed out good candidates and conduct dozens of interviews. This method is the status quo, but all requires a lot of manhours. More and more employers are asking their associates, employees and family members for references. In this case, you want to let those around you know that you are searching for a job. You may have to be strategic about this if you are in a job you are trying to move on from. It’s all about how you say it and who you say it to.
The Main Takeaway of Networking Strategy
Always remember, go into networking with the mindset to meet new people and find out more about them. Just introducing yourself and pitching your qualifications is not the best means to the ends. Be sure to take a genuine interest in others when networking in person. Also remember that LinkedIn is a powerful tool to getting noticed for your expertise.