Author Bio: Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.
Networking is one of the best strategies for finding a new job; many people are successful at sourcing work this way. It’s not necessarily about whom you know personally; it’s about who they know personally too.
What’s so great about networking for jobs?
Networking is quite exciting, because along the way you meet great people and discover mutually beneficial connections for the future. It’s important to set out with an open mind, and to be prepared to spend time getting to know new people.
Another great thing about networking for jobs is that people get to help each other out. That’s a two way street, of course. People love to connect – it’s human nature. It always feels good to assist someone on their journey. Keep that in mind if you feel awkward about asking people for help; you’ll surely be able to pay it forward at some point anyway.
To get your networking off to the best start, follow this strategy:
The first step is to put together a list of all the people you know. You could make a spreadsheet and fill it with all your email and telephone contacts. Another good idea is to download your Facebook profile data; in this is a downloadable spreadsheet of all your friends – a ready-made list.
Organize your list into categories. You might have a row for college friends, neighbors, family, close friends, ex-colleagues, etc. Next, organize them into order of priority, so that you can work through the list methodically. Top priorities might be ex-colleagues in your current line of work, for example.
Although you may not contact everyone on your list, be careful who you rule out – you never know who your contacts may be connected to. It’s very hard to guess!
Start to approach your contacts
An informal approach should be fine. Obviously it’s easier to approach close friends and family, but if you’re simply reaching out to contacts to ask for advice or information, a friendly, casual approach will suffice. There’s no harm in politely but directly asking people if they have any leads, either.
When the time comes to start contacting people, aim for the most personal approach possible. If you have the option to call people, do it. People will appreciate it more than words on a screen, and are more likely to remember that you asked. When you send texts or emails, there is a possibility that it will sit in an inbox for an extended period… that it won’t be opened at all.
Once you’ve connected with your contacts, make notes in your spreadsheet on the status of your conversations (and the dates you contacted them), to avoid duplicating efforts or missing people out. This will also help you to chase people up in a timely manner, if necessary.
Present yourself carefully
For those you plan to contact by email, it makes sense not to overload them with information. Make sure that your email is concise, but that there are no grey areas. For example, asking if they know anyone who has any work available is very vague and unlikely to result in the kind of work you want.
Tell them exactly what kind of work you are looking for, and a brief summary of your relevant history, so that they can pass this on if necessary. Ask to be connected with anyone who is likely to have something for you, so that you can cut out the middleman and save their time (or possible miscommunications).
Even when messaging people you know fairly well, make sure there are no errors in your communications. Errors will look careless, so you’re unlikely to leave a good impression.
Talk to people face to face
Make an effort to attend any local events and gatherings, and consider organizing some yourself. Don’t rule out any kind of occasion, as you never know who you’ll meet! This is a great opportunity to mention that you’re looking for employment.
Even if nothing springs to mind, your contacts may meet someone in the near future and think of you. When meeting new people, be sure to exchange phone numbers or business cards, so your contacts will be able to reconnect with you easily.
Carry a notebook so that you can make notes about the people you’ve met. It won’t look good if you forget important details about them later! You could also carry a resume or list of your skills, qualifications, achievements and work history, in case anyone you meet should want to see it.
Network through professionals
If you search online for networking events in your local area, you will probably find something. People will often get together to meet other professionals for breakfast with the sole aim of networking. These are great events to attend, for obvious reasons.
If there isn’t anything in your area, why not start one up? You’ll be helping other people to reach their goals, while expanding your own networks rapidly. You can hire a space, or a meeting in a local café. Advertise it on meetup.com to give people a chance to find you, and pin an advert in your local store or post office. If it works well, it can become a regular thing; you can exchange ideas, contacts and advice, while making friends in the process.
Network for jobs online
Networking online is also a smart move. There are plenty of sites that will help you connect with others and look for jobs. LinkedIn is a great example; make sure you profile and status is up-to-date, and start to search for people in your desired profession. Ask your LinkedIn contacts if they can connect you with the right professionals.
You can also look on job boards like Indeed.com, and chat with other professionals on job forums. You never know who will be signing in, so check back regularly and get involved in plenty of discussions, rather than just starting your own.
Make use of your social media accounts by making posts asking if anyone has useful contacts or information. You can also search for groups related to your profession and ask questions there, as members will be notified of your posts.
If you use this strategic approach to your networking, you might be surprised how quickly valuable connections come your way. You might even make some new friends on the road to landing the job you’ve always wanted. Good luck!