For many of us, job searching is so much more easily done via the internet, job boards, and classified ads. After all, a quick Google search can pull up hundreds of relevant job boards and career sites based on just a few keywords. Considering that modern technology has changed the job seeking process, it can be tempting to skip the person-to-person contact and conduct your search passively from the comfort of your own home.
There isn’t a downside to employing these methods in your job hunt, and in fact, it may help you land a job. However, these methods alone won’t come close to achieving what a more varied approach can. There’s one element you can integrate that will help you gain far more traction and leads in your hunt: networking.
The myth of networking, debunked
Networking has become an overused, misconstrued term that is sometimes wrongly associated with undesirable communication with strangers with the goal of finding a job. Though it’s easy to imagine yourself blushing, nervous, and uncertain of what to do in these situations, it’s essential to remember that networking is simply getting to know people. By merely starting up a conversation, you are creating a foundation for relationship building. In fact, when speaking with others, you don’t necessarily have to find a way to work your job search into the conversation, or to coyly feel out a lead. The goal is to be authentic, genuine, and sincere. How, then, can you forward your job search?
Set the pegs in place for success
Before discussing how to network, it’s essential to solidify our perception of networking and connections. Believe it or not, you network every single day. Every time you interact with someone, you are networking. Each person you know is a valuable connection who can potentially impact your job search. Now that you know anyone you meet could turn into a new opportunity for you, you’ll want to tap into that network, which is easier than you think.
Prior to reaching out, you’ll want to think about what information you want to share, how to ask for leads, what your networking goal is, and who you’ll be talking to. To begin your networking venture, make a list of the connections you want to speak to. As we stated earlier, literally every person is a connection, not just family members, friends, or individuals in the same industry or profession as you. Make your list as thorough as possible by reaching out to your past as well as current acquaintances. These contacts may also be able to refer you to people in their network who can help you. Once you get these professionals’ contact information, add them to your list.
When putting together your list, create an organized log or spreadsheet in which you document their name, contact information, professions, and companies.
After you’ve spoken or reached out to someone, create a column for the date you made or tried to make contact. This will help you figure out when you need to follow up or reach out again, in order to keep the relationship fresh. It can also be helpful to create a column for notes such as their interests, insight, and professional needs, so you can reference them later on.
Reach out and build relationships
As we touched upon earlier, you don’t need to enter a conversation aggressively. If you’d feel more comfortable opening up to a contact after a second or third conversation, by all means, do so. It may take time to develop the depth of authenticity and sincerity you want out of your one-on-one interactions, so tailor these general tips to what feels right for you. In regards to what you share, it’s important to let your connections know that you are actively looking for work, and that you appreciate any leads or specific information they can give you. Focus your job search so contacts can understand what you’re looking for and keep you in mind for potential opportunities.
Side step the potential for social awkwardness by being considerate to your contacts, especially those far-flung contacts whom you haven’t seen or spoken to recently, such as former colleagues. Take the time to find out what they’re up to these days and any highlights they might want to share about their personal lives. While it’s important to make sure they’re aware that you’re looking for opportunities, you don’t want to be too aggressive or only focus on your needs since professional relationships are a two-way street.
Maintain your network consistently
It’s important that you maintain consistent contact with your network regardless of whether you landed a new job or not. Why? You want to show that their help and willingness to talk to you is appreciated, and you would be happy to return the favor should they ever need some guidance or assistance. Keeping in touch is simple: send an article that they would be interested in from time to time or pick up the phone and leave a quick message every few months. In addition, if you are still in the process of finding a job, rechurn your list. It never hurts to give someone a quick call and remind them of yourself.