How to Network for the Job Search
In today’s job market, submitting a resume isn’t enough to land that coveted role you’ve been dreaming about. The majority of people surveyed by LinkedIn consider networking vital to career success, and we agree: establishing relationships is a vital component of upward mobility.
To network successfully, planning is essential. And we're here to be your guiding light. That’s why we’ve prepared seven tips to help you master the networking stage of your job search journey.
7 tips for building a professional network
Mastering the art of networking can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience, regardless of your career level. Put your worries at ease with these simple steps:
1. Attend networking events
No one wants to be the person handing out candy stapled to personal business cards on Halloween. There’s a time and a place for that—networking events. Prepare to get out of your comfort zone and have your elevator pitch ready. Who knows? You might meet someone who can change the course of your career after just a quick conversation.
Try to make connections before the actual event via email or LinkedIn. This will help boost your confidence and start the process of building rapport with new connections. You can also check if the event has a hashtag on Twitter to see who is discussing the event, agenda, etc. and start establishing your network early on.
Pro Tip: Use LinkedIn’s “find nearby” feature to connect with people at your networking event. Simply activate Bluetooth on your device, press on “My Network” in the bottom menu followed by “Connect” and then select “Find Nearby.” This is a great starting point for building professional relationships within a matter of minutes.
2. Join a local professional group
What better way to find open positions in your field than to build relationships with industry professionals in your area? A professional group is a great way to find a mentor to help you reach your career goals or get your foot through the door at your dream company. The vast access to career resources, training material and industry knowledge doesn’t hurt either.
3. Leverage your alumni association
Your alumni association isn’t just responsible for those annual fundraising calls you receive each year. Consider your alma mater as an opportunity to gain access to all things job search related, such as exclusive job boards, networking events and classmates from a wide variety of backgrounds. This vast resource can also help you build rapport with individuals who share your pride of graduating from the same school, establishing a lifelong bond.
Pro Tip: A university will typically have an online directory with information on each alumni’s current place of employment. Leverage this resource to connect with contacts who work at your employer of choice. This may just be your next stepping stone to nailing your dream job.
4. Spark a conversation through your social networking sites
Your social media connections are good for more than just puppy pictures. Over a third of professionals around the world report having casual conversations on LinkedIn Messaging create new career opportunities. For instance, a coworker you used to work with or a contact you made at a conference may have a shared connection at the company you just applied to. Take the time to remind them where you met and ask them for an introduction, rather than resorting to a cold outreach approach.
5. Follow up with your connections
Don't be a one-and-done connector after meeting someone at a conference or professional organization. Holding on to long-term relationships is all about maintaining connections and showing appreciation for their time. Remember, a charming handwritten note or thank-you email goes a long way when it comes to building your network. You'd be surprised how few of your competition overlook this simple but effective approach.
Pro Tip: If you don’t receive a response within a few days, don't hesitate to pick up the phone. Once you have them on the phone, ask whether they have any tips or referrals to help you in your search.
6. Volunteer in the community
Volunteering is an excellent way to create bonds with like-minded individuals who share your passion for serving the community. Not only does it teach you new skills you can take back to a potential employer, but it also is helpful for those who are more introverted to develop their sociability and broaden their network, while giving back to a great cause. Data indicates employers are also more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience on their resume—creating yet another great reason to help those in need.
7. Create mutually-beneficial relationships
Remember, building networks isn’t just to advance your career. It’s about creating meaningful relationships to help each other succeed. When speaking with a connection, make sure to really listen. Think about who you can introduce your contact to based on their career aspirations or how you can help them develop a skill set. This method will secure your relationship for years to come.
Pro Tip: Set up reoccurring calls with your close contacts to discuss any new industry developments, opportunities for advancement and professionals to sync up with to assist with the job search journey.
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and put these methods into use!
Advancing your professional brand
Now that you’ve built your business network, you need to create the blueprint for the rest of your professional brand. From analyzing your skills and experience, professional values and behavior to presenting these components online, our Kforce experts will help you navigate the way. Learn more about how to take charge of your personal brand in our 2020 Job Search Guide.