No matter how shy or introverted you are, you can still learn to network and secure the job of your dreams. This is because networking really is accessible to everyone because most us know more people than we think.
Whether you realize it or not, you engage in a form of networking on a daily basis. Basically, it centers on human connection and making the most of the contacts you already know.
But to learn a few more insider tips on how to network for a job, whether you’re a college student, graduate, or changing careers, this article is for you.
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Why Use Networking To Secure a Job?
Nothing beats making valuable connections in your preferred or chosen field of work. Here are just a few of the many benefits of networking and why it’s sometimes the better way to secure a job:
- An employer is more likely to conduct business with or a hire a person they know and like
- Networking for a popular position enters you into a smaller pool of applicants, versus a huge draw of applicants when you apply online
- In some cases, you can secure a job even if there isn’t a formal job on the table. I.e. if you make a good enough impression, you could get hired and a position created for you
Networking means putting yourself out there. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking and takes a lot more planning and plenty of courage when compared to searching for a job online. But at the end of the day, networking can actually be far more effective in securing a job that suits you and your skill set.
How to Network for a Job: Compile a List of the Contacts You Know
Even if you think you don’t know anyone, you probably know way more people than you realize that could help you on your job search. This is what you want to tap into when it comes time to networking.
There’s also a good chance that the circle of people you know have contacts of their own that could offer some form of career advice or opportunity. Think about the people you went to school or college with, contacts from a previous job or current job. There’s also the contacts you have on LinkedIn, social media platforms, as well as your circle of friends and acquaintances.
If you have a spouse, there’s also the contact they might know. And don’t forget about contacts such as your doctor, pharmacist, yoga instructor, or the other parents at your child’s school. Opportunity is everywhere if you know how to look for it.
Reach Out to Your Contact List
Once you’ve compiled your list of contacts within your network, it’s time to start reaching out. At first it might seem a little awkward contacting a person you haven’t really spoken to in years, or never even spoken to, for that matter. But all it takes is a simple email or call and you’re on the right path to networking.
There’s no point in having a great network of contacts if they know nothing about your situation. Let them know you are searching for a job opportunity and remember to be specific about the type of skills you offer. It’s important to not let your assumptions of what other people might think get in your way.
Just because you don’t know someone very well or haven’t spoken to them in a while doesn’t mean that they won’t be willing to help you. You might be surprised by the willingness of other people and the contacts they have.
Make the Most of Previous References
When you’re looking for a job within a specific field, you want to start by contacting the references you know from the previous jobs you’ve held. Your references are, essentially, people like you. They can also endorse your skillset, vouch for your work ethic, and sing your praise.
You also want to ensure that they are prepared to affirm your work capabilities if a future employer contacts them. It’s important to keep them in the loop so that they can prepare for any future calls.
Be Specific About What You’re Looking for
No, it doesn’t come across as presumptuous if you’re specific in your networking job request. Instead, it comes across as assertive, like you know what you want. The reality is that networking is only truly successful when you have a specific target and career goals.
Leaving yourself open to generic requests such as ”let me know if anything at all pops up” will not serve you in the long run. It doesn’t leave you open to possibility. Instead, it can derail your networking efforts and you could miss out on meaningful connection with the right contacts.
Ultimately, asking for leads that are focused on a specific goal or career makes your networking a whole lot easier and better established for success.
Maximize Social Networks and Online Resources
While nothing beats face-to-face interaction when it comes to networking, there’s no denying the power and pervasiveness of the internet. It’s a great way to maximize your reach and form or reinforce relationships with both new and old contacts.
In some cases, you may not be able to meet up with people within your network, face-to-face. Over the past year, physical interaction has not been possible for many people (hello, pandemic). This is where the internet and social networking can bridge the gap.
The internet is one of the best ways to make initial contact with the people in your network. Then you can build your relationships from there. You also have access to a range of internet resources to help spread the word about your job search. Just some of these include LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Indeed Job Forums, and more.
Sure, it’s tempting to network from the comfort of your own home, behind a computer screen. In all honesty, that’s the one of the easier ways of networking. But at some point, it’s important to put yourself out there and network with people in real life, face-to-face.
Personal interaction is an important part of networking because it allows you the chance to vouch for yourself, in person. So, instead of emailing an old friend, ask to meet up with them and discuss any work opportunities they might know of. And make time for a personal catch up, too!
In addition to this, you also want to attend networking events in order to make new connections within your preferred field or industry. This could be anything from a business convention, a job fair, a trade show, or after work drinks with a colleague or friend.
If you’re looking for a career change and want to change job fields, this is where interpersonal networking is so important. Attend events with someone you know within this network and meet as many new people as possible.
Of course, there are also plenty of networking opportunities in a more social setting. So don’t turn down invitations to social gatherings. Go to the barbeque, the pool party, or dinner party — you never know who you could meet.
Be Open to Volunteer Opportunities
One of the best ways to improve relationships with people in your network is by giving back and helping them out. It’s also a great way to find work by offering your time and help to your contacts.
Networking is not all about you and meeting your needs. It’s important to remember that it works as a two-way street. You want to be willing to help others for their time, too. Volunteering to help your connections says a lot about your motivation and dedication and it could even be a chance to show off your skills in some way.
So, in other words, if a connection within your network invites you to a volunteer day organized by their workplace, don’t turn it down!
Challenge Yourself and Exit Your Comfort Zone
Some of the best experiences in life come from stepping outside of your comfort zone. As humans, we are all creatures of habit and put certain parameters on what we’re comfortable with, and not.
If you’re on the more introverted side, it’s important to challenge yourself and exit this comfort zone in order to start networking. You can start off with small changes, such as encouraging yourself to speak to a stranger, engaging with more people at work or school, or volunteering your help at an event.
If you struggle with social anxiety, prepare some questions and topics of discussion to talk about when you next attend a networking event. Then there’s also the fear of rejection when it comes to putting yourself out there.
It’s important to try, regardless of the outcome. At least then you know you have put in your best effort, and if you’re rejected, it’s not because you didn’t put yourself out there.
Follow Up With Your Contacts
This is a crucial step along your networking journey. In short, following up is a way for you to guarantee that the connection you’ve made with a contact is worth your while. If you haven’t heard anything back, you want to follow up with new connections once you’ve first chatted or met up with them.
But bear in mind that you don’t want this follow-up contact to seem pushy in any way. Make sure to thank them for taking the time to chat to you, ask a few more questions (if you have them) etc. The last thing you want is to push them away by putting too much pressure on the situation. The end-goal is to strengthen the relationship so that they keep you in mind!
Looking for Advice on How To Get a Job Through Your Network?
If you’re on the hunt for more expert tips on how to network for a job, you’re in the best place possible. With Goodwall, you have access to a plethora of information on education, career and job opportunities, self-improvement, and more.