“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” An age-old phrase that has stricken many job seekers with anxiety—especially the ones rich in skillset but lacking in professional connections. If your network currently needs some growth, you may find relief in knowing this phrase isn’t entirely one to live by. A vast professional network alone, won’t land you your dream job—your skillset will always have a role to play in that. Networking is, however, a crucial part of career development. Building valuable connections with people such as recruiters, will help amplify your outreach, when the time comes to make your next move.
As the job market becomes increasingly competitive—now more than ever it’s important to build upon your network, and form meaningful business relationships with people who can help you stand out from the crowd. While it may seem challenging to form connections during a time when in-person interactions aren’t safe—there are many virtual ways to build rapport and network with recruiters and hiring managers. Here are eight tips inspired by some of our very own Execu|Search recruiters:
Show you’re invested
Meaningful business relationships don’t form overnight—they take time and commitment from everyone involved. If you’re just starting to work with a recruiter, for example, you’ll want to show them that you’re serious about putting in the effort to form a meaningful connection. Be responsive and flexible with how you communicate. A timely response is always appreciated. Most recruiters aim to respond to candidates within the same day—if not immediately—so trying your best to do the same (whether via email, social media, text message, or call), will help you stand out and prove you’re in this for the long haul.
Connect on LinkedIn
Recruiters and hiring managers are always looking for ways to share new opportunities. Mike Ruben, Managing Director, says, “I recommend candidates connect with me on LinkedIn because I’m very active in posting new opportunities, and other value-added content.” Connecting on the platform is a great way to stay in-the-know about what’s out there, and what roles you may want to have a conversation about. This also holds true to any business connection you may form throughout your career—LinkedIn provides an easy, and organized way for you to stay updated on your network.
Utilize video calls
Face-to-face interactions do tend to make people feel more connected. While you may not be able to meet in-person, you can still emulate the experience with video calls.
Britney Acquaire, Director, suggests, “Be open to video calls! As a recruiter, I am always flexible to doing just a phone call if necessary, because everyone’s circumstances and capabilities are different. However, video calls are so much more helpful as I am trying to build a relationship, and help make the candidate more memorable.”
Talk about things other than work
Remember that while a recruiter’s ultimate goal is to help find you a perfect fit with an employer and role—when it comes to building meaningful business relationships, your conversations can, and should at times, stray away from that. Berylin Schwab, Senior Staffing Manager, says, “Be authentic. If you ask how someone is doing, be ready for them to really tell you, and be interested in what they have to say.” Always aim to follow up and ask questions—it will show you truly care and reflect positively on your character.
Keep professionalism top of mind
While working from home may have blurred the lines of normal work hours for some—be cognizant of when, and how, you are reaching out. Unless your communication is urgent, try to avoid outreach late at night or early in the morning, and use email as your form of communication. Emails are usually deemed as “non-urgent,” and can be referenced and answered at a more convenient time. Keep in mind, your communication style can also be used to gauge how you will eventually interact with hiring managers—so professionalism is key.
Stay-at-home orders aren’t stopping people from safely getting together. From using group video chat and gaming apps like House Party, to having “drive-by” birthday celebrations—the current situation has invoked a little creativity in us all. When it comes to networking—there is no reason you can’t do the same. As many restaurants are offering “contactless delivery,” suggesting something like a virtual lunch meeting, is one unique and fun way to get to know new people you are adding to your network.
Send a thank you
A “thank you” email or gift can go a long way. It not only shows a recruiter their efforts were appreciated, but can demonstrate how you’ll eventually show appreciation to a hiring manager after an interview. Even if you’ve just had an introductory meeting—consider sending a short email to the recruiter to thank them for their time. Since this can really help you stand out, the same concept should apply when interacting with other people in your network. Whether a contact shared some industry insight or helped you make a connection with a prospective employer, never forget the power of a simple thank you! Read Also: Feeling Thankful? 6 Do’s + Don’ts For Writing The Perfect Thank You Note
Like any relationship, it’s crucial to communicate from time-to-time. Whether you’re still on the hunt for your next career move, or are no longer looking—it’s important to check-in and catch up. Consider putting a note in your calendar to check-in with your connections once every couple months. You can also use apps like Fabriq, which automatically remind you when it’s time to reconnect with specific people. Read Also: How To Network Like A Pro