Networking—some like it, some hate it, and some find it outright uncomfortable. No matter how you feel about it, networking is an important part of leveling up your career. And it can have a significant impact on your job search.
But networking does more than help you find openings. It can also help you get selected for those openings.
On the employer’s side, referrals are considered one of the best ways to find quality candidates. Which means a recommendation from someone you know is more compelling than any resume or cover letter and can help you land a job more easily.
Recommendations also allow you to bypass the flood of applicants that inundate every online job listing. In fact, your network can help you bypass the job boards altogether.
More than half of open positions are filled without ever being advertised online—which is known as the “hidden job market.” Your network can tap into the hidden job market for you by searching for unadvertised opportunities within their circles.
And with a community of experienced professionals backing you, you can learn more and advance quicker in your career.
So how do you network?
Networking with people you already know
If you’re just beginning to gather your professional network, you’re likely starting from scratch. But unless you lived under a rock for the last twenty years, you already have an extensive personal network to work with.
Friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, current coworkers, past coworkers, old schoolmates. When you try to tally everyone you know, the list grows quickly. And all these people are potential additions to your network.
Start by making a list of everyone you can think of. Then, reach out to them one by one, stating your intention to build your network and find a job. Maybe not all will respond, but people usually love to help others and will gladly assist you.
Once some friends are onboard, nurture the connection by checking in with them every so often and just being friendly. Networking is all about relationships, after all.
Networking with people you don’t know
As extensive as your friend and family connections may be, you probably want to network with some fresh faces and meet more professionals in your industry.
There’s a couple of ways to go about meeting new professionals.
If you keep a professional profile online, start by updating it… and then stay active on it. An active profile stays relevant and so will appear when people search profiles with your job title or other related criteria, allowing them to find you.
Your online profile is also a powerful networking tool to connect with the employees of companies you want to work for.
Some experts recommend connecting with a handful of current employees every time you apply for a job at a different company. This way, you begin forging relationships right away and get an “in.”
But if you appreciate the power of a firm handshake when meeting new people, there are plenty of in-person networking opportunities as well.
Job fairs are made for job seekers like you to network with companies that are hiring. Websites like Meetup.com can help you locate local job fairs or other professional gatherings. Also, to be informed about hiring events near you, subscribe to receive text messages from Nexxt to be alerted of the latest hiring events and jobs!
Networking events, such as conferences, expos, or any industry-related event, are a great way to meet people outside of the job-hunting scene. Bring your business card or a copy of your resume to hand out to people you’d like to stay in touch with.
Getting the most from your network
Assembling your network and leveraging your network are different things. You need to know how to properly use and maintain your network to get the most from these connections.
For starters, when reaching out to new people, try asking for job advice, not a job. Whether the person has a job for you or not, you can get valuable information to then apply to your job search. It can spark a better conversation. And you’ll flatter them by seeking their insight and expertise.
And don’t call upon your network only when you need something from them.
Continually asking how you can help your network is a great way to deepen these relationships. The mutually beneficial connection that results is much more powerful than the alternative.
Once your network is compiled, keep in touch with these people. Sending them monthly updates on your job search keeps them in the loop without overwhelming them. Check in with them every so often, and if you find something that would interest them, like an article you know they’d love to read, send it to them.
While networking can speed up your job search, it isn’t guaranteed to get you a job right away. It is a long-term solution to employment and career growth… one that surrounds you with a supportive professional community in the process. What could be better than that?