You’ve heard people tell you to network your way to a new job. But that seems easier said than done. You need a plan to grow your network.
Maybe you don’t have a network or you don’t like to network or perhaps you don’t know how to network. Before you worry about any of this, let’s start by developing a plan to grow your network.
The chances of your securing your next job solely because you post your resume online are slim. Can it happen? Sure. But, when was the last time you were struck by lightning? Those are the kinds of odds I’m talking about.
Why Do You Need A Network
Companies use a variety of sources to promote their job openings and attract candidates. Your goal is to discover jobs through one or more of these avenues. To do this, you need a networking strategy.
Here are some popular sources of hiring:
- Employee referrals
- Recruiter sourced
- Company career website
- Campus recruiting
One of the best ways to get referred for a job is to meet people who can refer you. That would mean you have to meet employees (or former employees).
Your networking strategy starts by purposefully growing your network. What I’m talking about is purposefully and genuinely expanding the people you interact with and share information with.
There’s a saying – plant your seeds before you need them.
Plan to grow your network before you need it!
Who Do You Need To Know
Think about who you need to know. (This can be truly difficult if you haven’t thought about it before.)
Employees – Current and Past
Look for employees (current and past) of the company you are interested in working for.
People In Your Industry or Occupation
Meeting people in your desired industry or occupation helps you stay informed about what’s going on. Meet people at MeetUp, online forums, or just reach out to “talk shop.”
Recruiters (Internal and 3rd Party)
I don’t really think you want to “network” with recruiters but they are good people to connect with on LinkedIn. Typically, recruiters are busy filling open jobs and will only be interested in speaking with you if they have an open requisition and you meet the requirements. However, do add them to your network.
Who are the people in your industry or occupation you need to meet because they do their job really well or are recognized as top performers? You may find them appearing in a trade publication, association newsletters or even the newspaper. They win awards, give presentations, hold leadership positions. Don’t forget to look inside your organization too.
Start creating a “Wish List” of people you would like to meet.
How Will You Meet Them
Before you start drafting your email to these “need to know” people and asking to network, find out who you know who may know them.
Ask your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, everyone, if they know this person and if they might be able to introduce you.
You will need to explain to everyone WHY you want to meet them. Bear in mind, that it isn’t just about what you need. Think about what you can offer the person you are asking to meet with.
Can you be a resource to them? Can you flatter their ego? Can you introduce them to someone? Will the conversation with them help them feel like they are giving back? Knowing what you can offer in return requires a bit of thinking and perhaps research.
Look for their name on LinkedIn.
It is pretty easy to find out who knows who. If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, now is the time.
Do they belong to a professional association or group?
They may attend monthly meetings. Attend those meetings.
Are they delivering a presentation?
Attend the presentation.
What Will You Say
Genuinely and sincerely state the reason you would like to meet them and share something you know will be of value to them.
For more help, you can read How To Ask For An Informational Meeting
Theory vs Practice
I know, in theory, this sounds really simple. It is much more difficult to carry out. But don’t let that be the reason you don’t do it.
Rejection will happen. But it only takes one great conversation with someone who says yes to keep you motivated.
Tips To Network Easier
- Ask people you know who are really good networkers for advice.
- Read books and blogs and listen to podcasts about networking.
Think of this as an opportunity for self-improvement that will pay off greatly!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.