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The Power of Networking for Job Seekers

The Power of Networking for Job Seekers

Networking is one of the most important and effective things you can do when looking for a new job. Networking involves building relationships and connections with professionals in your industry or career of interest. The goal is to create and nurture a network of contacts that can offer advice, provide leads on job opportunities, make introductions, and serve as references.

Why is networking so valuable for job seekers? There are several key benefits:

Access to the “hidden job market” – It’s estimated that up to 80% of jobs are never advertised publicly. By tapping into your network, you gain access to unposted jobs and opportunities. Your contacts may be able to connect you directly to hiring managers.
Insider information – Your network can offer inside information about potential jobs, companies you’re interested in, and trends in your industry. This allows you to craft better targeted resumes and cover letters.
Referrals – A recommendation from someone already within a company can give you a major advantage when applying for a job. Your network contacts can potentially refer you for opportunities.
Advice and preparation – Your connections can help you prepare for job interviews by doing practice questions with you and offering input on your resume, portfolio or other application materials.
Support – Looking for a job is stressful. Your network can provide moral support, encouragement and tips based on their own job search experiences.

In summary, networking allows you to unlock the hidden job market, gain insider information, secure referrals, improve your preparation, and receive support during your job search. Making networking a priority will expand your possibilities and potential opportunities.




Ayu Rollman

Managing Partner

Expand Your Connections

Growing your professional network is one of the most valuable things you can do in your job search. A wider network equals more connections, which can lead to insider industry knowledge, job opportunities, career advice, and referrals.

Take time to actively expand your list of contacts. Here are some tips:

– Join industry associations, clubs, or alumni groups related to your field. Attend meetings and events to meet fellow members.
– Connect with former colleagues you’ve lost touch with. Search LinkedIn and social media to find them.
– Ask friends, family members, and existing contacts if they can introduce you to anyone who works in your desired industry or company.
– Attend conferences and networking events, even if they’re outside your city. Use them to connect with attendees from across the country.
– Volunteer for a professional organization or nonprofit board related to your field. This allows you to meet other volunteers.
– Follow key companies and professionals on social media. Comment on their posts to get on their radar.
– Use social media and alumni directories to reconnect with old classmates, teammates, or group members.

The more effort you put into expanding your professional connections, the more people you’ll have to turn to for job leads and career support during your search. Aim to gradually build up the size of your network.

Leverage Your Existing Contacts

When job searching, it’s easy to focus your energy on making new connections. But don’t forget about your existing network! You likely already know many people who could assist with your job search if you reconnected.

Go through your address book, LinkedIn connections, and social media contacts to make a list of people you haven’t been in touch with recently. Focus especially on those who work in your industry or at companies you’d like to work for.

Here are some tips for reaching out to dormant contacts:

– Send an email explaining that you’re currently job searching and would love to set up a quick coffee chat to catch up. Offer a few dates and times that work for you.
– Pick up the phone! People are often pleasantly surprised to get a call instead of an email. Let them know you’re looking to reconnect.
– Message them on LinkedIn or social media to say hello and mention your job search. Ask if they’d be open to a call or meeting.
– Consider connecting with distant relatives, childhood friends, college alumni, former work colleagues,etc. You never know who might be able to assist!

When meeting up, come prepared with thoughtful questions to show you’re genuinely interested in reconnecting beyond just needing their help. Avoid simply asking if they know of any job openings right off the bat. However, don’t be afraid to discuss your career goals and ask if they have any advice. Networking is a two-way street, so make sure to offer your help as well. With a little effort, you can leverage your existing contacts to aid your job search.



Attend Networking Events

Attending networking events can be a great way to expand your professional connections. Look for conferences, meetups, alumni events, and other gatherings that are relevant to your industry and interests.

When attending these events, come prepared with business cards and an elevator pitch that summarizes who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can add value. Arrive early to events so you have time to get settled, scan the room, and approach people who seem approachable.

As you work the room, focus on building rapport and having meaningful conversations rather than just passing out business cards. Ask smart questions to learn more about what others do and listen attentively when they speak. Share ideas and information freely without worrying about immediately getting something in return.

Look for opportunities to follow up and continue the relationship after the event. Connect on LinkedIn, send a personalized email recapping your conversation, or suggest meeting for coffee or a informational interview to learn more. The goal is to build relationships, not just get a quick transaction.

Attending networking events takes practice, but it gets easier over time. The more events you go to and people you meet, the more comfortable you’ll become working the room and making strong impressions. Just focus on providing value, listening, and following up. With persistence and a positive attitude, networking events can greatly expand your connections.

Virtual Networking

With so much of our daily communication happening online, virtual networking has become an essential part of any job search. Online networking opens up opportunities to connect with people you may not be able to meet in person. Social media platforms like LinkedIn provide access to a wide range of professionals in your industry.

When networking virtually, focus on quality over quantity. Target key individuals at your dream companies or in roles you aspire to. Customize connection requests with a quick note about why you want to connect. Share relevant content to start conversations and establish your expertise. Comment on posts and ask thoughtful questions to build rapport.

Join industry groups and alumni networks on LinkedIn or Facebook to tap into an engaged community with shared interests. Follow leading voices in your field on Twitter and read their content. Attend virtual events, conferences, and webinars to gain visibility. With video enabled, these digital gatherings allow you to make connections face-to-face.

Overall, apply the same professionalism and relationship-building approach as you would to in-person networking. Be genuinely interested in others, offer help, and look for opportunities to provide value. With proper etiquette and active participation, virtual interactions can blossom into meaningful connections that boost your job search.



Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are meetings you set up with professionals in your desired industry to learn more about their career path, company, and industry as a whole. They are not a pitch for a job, but rather an opportunity to get insider knowledge and advice that can help guide your job search and career decisions.

To request an informational interview, first identify professionals relevant to the field or positions you are targeting. Look on LinkedIn or ask friends/family for introductions if possible. When reaching out, explain you are looking to learn more about their career experiences and company and ask if they would be open to a short 20-30 minute informational interview. Offer to meet at their convenience – in person, over the phone, or video chat.

When conducting the interview, go in with a list of questions prepared but also let the conversation flow naturally. Sample questions could include:
– How did you get started in this field?
– What is a typical day in your role like?
– What skills or qualifications are most important for success?
– What do you enjoy most about your job?
– What challenges does the industry face?
– Do you have any advice for someone looking to break into the field?

At the end, be sure to thank them for their time and insight. Following up with a brief thank you note can help nurture the relationship. Informational interviews are a great way to expand your professional network while gaining critical advice and perspective. The investment of time is well worth it for the knowledge you can gain.

Follow Up

Following up after networking is crucial to building meaningful relationships and increasing your chances of landing a job. Don’t let a promising connection fizzle out due to lack of follow through.

– Send a follow up email within 24 hours thanking the person for their time. Mention something specific you discussed and reiterate your interest in opportunities at their company.
– Share any articles, resources, or connections that might help them. This shows you were paying attention and provides value.
– Connect with them on LinkedIn and include a customized note referencing your conversation.
– Check in periodically with updates on your job search progress. Ask if they know of any current openings that fit your background.
– When you do land a job, let them know and thank them again for their support during your search. Maintain the relationship for future opportunities.
– Send a handwritten thank you card after an informational interview. This extra touch can leave a lasting impression.
– If the person agrees to make an introduction on your behalf, follow up with them to share the outcome. Always show appreciation for their referral.

The key is to add value, express gratitude, and nurture the relationship over time. Don’t just reach out when you need something. With persistence and care, networking contacts can turn into long-term mentors and allies during your career.



Track Your Outreach

It’s important to track all of your networking outreach efforts so you can follow up and continue building relationships over time.

The best way to do this is to keep a spreadsheet with the following columns:

– Date of outreach/interaction
– Name of contact
– Contact info (email, phone, LinkedIn)
– How you met/connected with them
– Topics discussed
– Next steps agreed upon
– Date for follow up

Keeping track of your discussions and any next steps ensures you can continue conversations seamlessly. It also helps form genuine relationships, as you’re showing interest in what they shared and effort to maintain the connection.

Following up according to the timeline you set is key. Set calendar reminders if appropriate. Send quick check-ins to see if they have any updates on a topic you previously discussed. Share any helpful articles or opportunities related to what you talked about. Show you value developing the relationship.

With a diligent tracking system, you can build and sustain your network over time. This expands possibilities for job leads, introductions, advice, and more. Networking is about farming not hunting – plant seeds and nurture connections for future growth.

Provide Value

When networking, it’s important to not just ask others for help but to offer value as well.

Here are some ways you can provide value to your network connections:

– Share relevant articles, books, or other resources that may be helpful to them. Stay up to date on news and trends in their industry so you can pass along anything useful.
– Make introductions between people in your network who could benefit from connecting. For example, if you know someone looking for a new job and someone else hiring for a similar role, suggest they meet.
– Offer to lend your skills and expertise where needed. If you have abilities in writing, graphic design, research, etc. volunteer to help your contacts with projects in those areas.
– Give recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn to help build up their professional brand.
– Write recommendations for people you’ve worked with previously if they need it for job applications.
– If you hear of job openings that may be a good fit for people in your network, send them the information.

The key is to look for ways to add value for others without expecting anything immediate in return. Building up goodwill can reap future benefits, but the focus should be on giving rather than getting. Helping make connections between people and sharing useful information are powerful ways to add value to your network.



Conclusion

The benefits of networking for job seekers are immense. By expanding your network, you open yourself up to more opportunities and increase your chances of landing your dream role. The strategies covered in this article like leveraging your existing contacts, attending events, conducting informational interviews, and providing value to others in your network can significantly boost your job search if done consistently.

The most important next step is to start putting these networking best practices into action. Reach out to former colleagues you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Sign up for a virtual networking event in your industry. Research people you’d like to conduct informational interviews with. Develop a system to stay organized and engaged with your growing network. Set aside time each week to network, even when you’re not actively looking for a job.

Make networking a lifelong habit, not just a job search strategy. The connections and relationships you build throughout your career can open doors and lead to exciting possibilities when you least expect it. Don’t underestimate the power of networking to accelerate your career growth and job search success. Start today!

Contact us at Navon International to explore how our expertise can help you find your Dream Job.

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