Effective Job Search: NETWORKING – Part 3
By Laura Sturmer | Published 2/12/2020
80% of all positions are filled without employers advertising
So at this point in our step-by-step job search, I am assuming you have read and followed the previous parts:
Part 1: Knowing yourself, your field and what type of problems you like to solve
Part 2: Knowing your industry and companies you want to work for
If you haven’t done the two steps above, please have a look at those articles, it will make the networking step easier (TRUST ME).
Knowing who you are and focusing on one specific industry or even a list of your target companies makes networking something more effective and easier.
What is Networking and why it’s so important?
“80% of all positions are filled without employers advertising. These positions are filled by or created for candidates who come to an employer’s attention through employee recommendations, referrals from trusted associates, recruiters, or direct contact with the candidate”.
So to be able to access this “hidden job market” you need the trusted associates, recruiters and other key players in a selection process to KNOW YOU and REMEMBER YOU and NETWORKING is the tool to allow you this.
Connecting with people will make you visible, put you under the spotlight where you will be noticed. It will increase your exposure.
So what is Networking?
It’s the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. This is why is so important to focus on your professional area and industry (see PART 1 of the article).
It’s also about building and nurturing professional relationships, with both parts bringing value to the side of the table.
In the end, networking allows us to meet people – not just contacts. The people you meet now, in what can often be a trying period, can become important friends, offering advice, support, and recommendations – all of which can simplify and improve your professional and personal life.
How can I do networking?
There are many ways but certainly not being at home applying to 100 jobs per day. It’s about putting your face out there.
If you know what is your field and industry the whole process will be fun and natural (TRUST ME).
In my case, for example, I picked Retail and Marketing as my industry and area. So the process of following people and companies on Linkedin, reading industry news, as well as attending events about those topics was something I would do by leisure.
I am really passionate about reading, learning and talking about the retail industry and what is new in Martech. So when I was going for coffee chats (with people in this field), the talk would flow so easily that did not feel as networking at all.
See below some of my favourite ways and tools for doing networking:
1. NETWORKING THROUGH LINKEDIN
If you followed PART 2 of the article you have already followed professionals and companies that belong to your focused industry and area on Linkedin. What they post on this social media will start then appearing in your timeline.
So it’s time to engage with the content:
Start engaging through likes, re-sharing, commentary on the things they post.
If you read an interesting article, share your point of view or an additional resource related to that.
Comment with questions on other things you would like to hear the opinion from the author.
Since they are professionals from your field, they most likely will be posting industry news, job opening, projects that they are working on, events happening or that they have attended.
Those are all INTERESTING topics for you (because you really like the industry, so learning about that should be fun). So why not comment, like, re-share on this content?
When I started doing this it really helped me to start understanding the retail industry in Canada. It was like receiving a curated content daily on my Linkedin timeline. And the more I engaged with content, the more Linkedin was showing relevant things for me.
Eventually, some of those professionals I was following, started sending me connections, they really noticed I was passionated about Retail and was engaging with their content. When they sent the connections they were also interested in know what content I was sharing. So first part accomplished, I was ready to reach them out for a coffee chat.
2. NETWORKING THROUGH COFFEE CHATS/PHONE CALLS
As I mentioned above, when some of the professionals I followed eventually became my connections, I knew there was an opportunity to learn even more from them through a coffee chat.
In one of the cases, I did invite an executive from the industry for a coffee chat by telling him how much I liked the articles he shared (and he knew it because I was always engaging with the content) so I would like to invite him to talk about the challenges of the retail industry overall over a coffee.
We had an almost two-hour coffee just chatting about retail trends, his international experience in retail and CPG. It was amazing! Almost like a one to one class where I could engage and bring all my questions, as well as my thoughts on the topics. I did not reach out him for a job (it wasn’t even my intention) but at the end of the coffee, he invited me to work for his company.
This is why I will always remind you, find the problems you love solving (your job title) and the industry you find interesting so networking becomes something fun and an amazing learning experience.
Other important tips about coffee chat/phone calls:
Set up some goals for yourself to make sure you are always meeting people. What about starting with one coffee chat/phone call per week? At the end of the year, you will likely have met 52 people related to your industry and field.
Use Linkedin Alumni tool to find people that studied at the same University or College as you and are working in your field or industry and invite them over a coffee (don’t forget to mention you both studied in the same institution and what is your objective with the contact)
Always come prepared for a coffee chat, bring questions and have an objective in mind.
Always offer more than one option to the person you are reaching out: a 10-15 min phone call or a quick coffee chat.
3. NETWORKING THROUGH EVENTS
Attending events is another great way to learn about the industry and meet with like-minded professionals. Usually every Monday I post on Linkedin about some cool events happening in Toronto on the following weeks (most of them are even for FREE) but you can also look at Meetup and Eventbrite platforms to find some that are relevant for you.
When attending an event, try to be prepared, research about the speakers, come with questions, listen and try to engage with fewer people so that you can have deeper conversations.
Just a quick reminder: since you are already following professionals and content from your field on Linkedin, I am pretty sure you have amazing information to share in the conversation. Be confident!
If you have the chance to engage with speakers, it’s even better! Bring your questions and use the time after or before the talk to chat even more.
After the event, make sure you follow all the speakers on Linkedin: if they attend this event they likely are effective networkers and attend other events or post relevant content that is interesting to follow.
If you had a chance to chat with them or anyone else, send an invite on Linkedin with a note about something relevant they told you, a key takeaway, a piece of advice you will follow, etc.
4. NETWORKING THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
There are two types of professional volunteering that you can engage and both are great to network. Choosing the one you prefer (if you can do both it’s even better) will depend mainly on your time availability:
One-off volunteering: for example, an event from your field that you helped with the logistics on the day of the event.
Medium and long term volunteering: when you dedicate a certain amount of hours per week, being responsible for an area or an activity at an organization.
Finding volunteering is not only about going online at your professional association and looking for the volunteering session if they have opportunities available (don’t forget about the hidden job market, it applies to volunteer too!). It’s about creating your opportunity too. I will exemplify that by sharing two personal examples:
1- One-off volunteering:
When I arrived in Canada and started following people on Linkedin, I noticed someone published about a conference on Marketing that was exactly about the topics I loved but the price point was prohibitive for me at that point.
So I found on Linkedin the people who were working on the event organization and sent them a note about the past experience I had in events, the love and passion I had for retail and marketing and that I was willing to volunteer on helping with anything they needed.
Summary of the story, they invited me for volunteering, asked me to help on the first hours of the event (so I could attend all panels I wanted), allowed me to attend on the cocktail and lunch with speakers and offered a referral letter. It was amazing, couldn’t think of a better scenario! And this volunteering position was never posted!
2- Medium and Long-term Volunteering
As a newcomer looking forward to re-entering in my field as a Marketer, one of my mentors (that I met over a coffee) started to help me think on alternatives on how I could volunteer in a position related to marketing that would allow me to network and start working in my field.
So he suggested me to work on a marketing association he was working and created a position for myself based on my skills and career objectives at that point. So during more than one year I dedicated a few hours for a week working in projects related to Marketing, had a meeting with other professionals from the industry and great learning experience during this time.
Again, at that time, the volunteer position did not exist, It was created when I created the opportunity to present myself as a marketing professional, shared my objectives and the problems I could help the marketing association to solve (the value I could add).
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE JOB SEARCH? HOW CAN I GET A JOB THEN?
Networking is not about getting a job, is about the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest. However, it has a positive consequence:
The more you network, the more you nurture the relationships you build, the more people will remember you and eventually let you know about job postings or will offer to make a referral if you reach them out.
And NEVER forget that networking is about:
Building and nurturing relationships: keep the conversation going, share content that is relevant to the other person (industry news, an interesting article, a link to an event, etc)
Adding value: how can I help the other person based on the current challenges and goals and objectives I know she/he has?
Building bridges: do I know anyone that might be interesting to introduce to the other professional?
NETWORKING IS AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP. And job search is about building relationships instead of applying online.
What did you think about the article? Do you have a different thought? Another strategy that worked for you? I would love to hear!
And keep following me to see the next articles and postings, I hope they help you to bring some light regarding the challenges of job search
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