If you are trying to find a job, you absolutely HAVE to network. Your competition is doing it and it is the single most effective job search strategy. The problem is that a lot of job seekers are uncomfortable with it because they feel awkward or phony. If you aren't using your network in your job search, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. You can start small. Here are a few steps that you can take in the next thirty days which will get you off to a strong start:
Master your professional introduction. Before you get out there to start meeting people, you need to be able to introduce yourself confidently. Create an introduction that is centred around your target job. Include a few points about your education, skills, and experience. Keep it short and practice it until you can deliver it smoothly. The people in your network will be better able to help you if they understand what you have done and what type of job you are seeking.
Make a list of your networking contacts. You likely already have a fantastic network of people who could connect with you with many potential opportunities. The key is in leveraging your network. Make a list of all of your contacts and reach out to them to connect. If appropriate, invite them out for a coffee. It's not enough to just KNOW the people in your network, you have be engaging with them on a regular basis for your network to open up opportunities for you.
Attend a networking event. As your network grows, it will provide you with even more value. To grow your network, you need to get out there and meet people. Find networking events that are specific to your industry and make it a point to attend. While you are there, set a goal to make a connection with three people. After the event, follow up with the people that you have met. If you do this on a monthly basis for a year, you will have added more than thirty five people from your industry to your network.
Attend a purely social event. Valuable networking connections can from anywhere. As long as you are out of your house and engaging with people, you are networking. Get out to softball games, neighbourhood barbeques, birthday parties and anywhere else where you might be able to make new connections. While you are there, use your professional introduction and talk to people about your career. You never know who might be able to open a door for you.
Get active on social media. Your networking plan won't be complete without a social media strategy. LinkedIn, in particular, is an excellent opportunity to connect with people who work in your industry, or even your target company. Review your LinkedIn profile to ensure that it reflects your current career goals. Be on there for at least ten minutes a day to make new connections, engage with your contacts, and look for opportunities.
Your networking efforts will be significantly more effective if you are consistent with it. Set a networking goal for each week. Don't make it overwhelming; even if you just make a commitment to attend a networking event or to meet up for coffee with one of your contacts, you will start to build momentum. Commit to networking and it will bring you results.
(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by rawpixel.com)