“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” You have probably heard this old saying many times but what does it really mean? Essentially it’s about networking. Networking can sound intimidating however it remains to be one of the most successful ways to find a new job. Essentially networking is about making contacts and building long-term relationships with people who can either help you or connect you with someone who can. Successful networking can lead to employer referrals, inside advice, connections, career coaching and professional support. Here are some tips on how to network your way to a new job.
1. Use Your Informal Network
Firstly, look at those closest to you- friends, family, neighbours and your wider community. This is your informal network and they can be highly valuable when looking for a new job. It can also consist of groups you play sports with or clubs you belong to. Or acquaintances you know through your spouse or an old teacher from school. With your informal network, you are reaching out looking for advice and help with your job search.
This is a good way to ease you into the process of networking. Make use of social gatherings to chat with friends of friends, extended family and relatives. Casually mention that you’re actively searching for work and any advice or help they have would be much appreciated. Make sure to carry your business cards at all times, you never know when it will come in handy.
Another way to start the conversation is by sending all those in your informal network a brief email. Let them know what kind of job you’re looking for and that you are open to recommendations.
2. Prepare Your Pitch
Work on a short speech to have ready to use if you meet someone who could be a key decision maker. Keep it short, to the point and rehearse it a few times. This should cover your most important skills, accomplishments and qualities. Know exactly what role you are looking for, which industries you want to work and if you know which employer you would like to work for, be sure to drop that into the conversation too. This is your pitch so keep it succinct and professional, with the focus on your skills and experience.
3. Reach Out To Your Professional Network
Your professional network can consist of past or present co-workers, colleagues, managers, supervisors or employees. They could be past or present clients and customers, business associates or alumni from your alma mater. Reaching out to this network requires some strategy, a brief one size fits all email isn’t going to work here.
What you should do is decide who to target in this network and ask them to help you with specific tasks involved in your job search process. For example, you could ask an old college classmate or information about their company’s hiring status and if they are comfortable with the idea- ask them to put you in touch with the recruitment manager. You want to tap into the network of your network thereby expanding your own network.
Alternatively, you could ask an old manager who changed jobs for advice on how they made the shift. Or look for CV advice from that contact working in the industry.
4. Attend Networking Events
Seek out industry networking events, either online or offline. These could be trade shows, conferences, seminars, workshops and chambers of commerce events. There are also lots of local meet-ups that organisations hold including alumni associations. These are all opportunities to start a conversation about a looking for a new job. There are also online networking events, with LinkedIn and Twitter becoming very popular digital ways to network.
Networking events are a great way to find out who’s hiring in the industry or who will be in the future. You can find out key information about which company is growing, who is looking to expand their product line and what their long-term goals are.
Networking events also present you with the opportunity to show off your skills. Bounce ideas off people and show your expertise in a particular area.