There are ways to facilitate this critical professional task for those new to networking or experiencing difficulty with networking.
Indeed, looking for a job is a job itself, whether you are currently working (and passively looking) or unemployed. The task of searching for open positions and then responding to job listings by sending out resumes/CVs or completing online profiles in applicant tracking systems can prove to be very time-consuming.
This article will discuss various tactics a job seeker can utilize to become a more effective networker, hopefully leading to conversations that lead to a job.
The Case for Networking
JobsRMine has explored the importance of networking previously, and its value cannot be overstated. Workers of any age, experience level, or industry can do well by acquiring networking skills.
Networking is often viewed as a standalone task, something that must be well-planned and separately executed. However, the opposite is true: networking must be integrated into every business action, no matter how large or small.
Because networking includes the ability to present oneself professionally, everyday interactions must count. Discussions with colleagues at the office, a project review with a customer, or a question you type into the console during a webinar — these all count as networking.
Put, if you add value during a business conversation, you’re networking.
However, keep things in check: you wish to come off as a professional and trusted resource, but do not go to extremes when the situation does not call for it. Others can detect disingenuousness; it’s better to err on the side of caution.
While this blog post cannot replace the dozens of courses for those wishing to optimize their LinkedIn profile and experience, a discussion about networking would be remiss without mentioning this most important social network for business.
LinkedIn still serves as the most efficient and valuable channel to conduct active or passive networking. However, if you still consider LinkedIn nothing more than an online resume, think again: engaging with the platform’s rich features will allow you to conduct networking, even if you are not purposely thinking about it.
Here are some ways to begin engaging more actively on LinkedIn:
*Like or comment on articles that appear in your Newsfeed. Your connections will be very grateful, and this could spur them to visit your profile or keep you in mind for a project or job.
*Endorse your connections for specific Skills. These often appear at the top of the page when you visit a person’s profile. Endorsing a connection for a Skill is quick and easy.
*Write a Recommendation for a colleague. This is a feature that is not utilized nearly enough because it requires long-form writing. However, the Recommendation will appear in your contact’s profile, and anyone connected to that person can read that Recommendation and possibly, if they are intrigued enough, investigate your profile.
*Become active in Groups. This isn’t anything you haven’t heard about already, but engaging in Groups is a meaningful way to present yourself in front of strangers who might be in a position to offer you professional opportunities. However, Groups can be complex, given the volume of spam that is often posted within them. Still, following specific discussions and/or making meaningful contributions in Groups can net you additional connections.
Many of these activities can be conducted on your smartphone or tablet, so you can network whenever or however you prefer. Thankfully LinkedIn has made upgrades to their mobile apps, thereby enhancing and facilitating the experience.
Become a Recruiter
Well, not in the professional sense. Helping friends get jobs — when no one asks you to — will come back and assist you in the end.
If you learn of an open position at a company — perhaps even at the company you presently work for — share it with your network privately. Do not merely post it for the world to see; you would not be adding value, as anyone can perform searches and find job links.
Instead, take the time to send info and links individually to people whom you think could benefit the most. Your contacts will be thankful that you took the time out to do this and think of them.
It also creates a perfect opportunity to get back in touch with people you may not have contacted in a long time. For example, ‘Saw this job and thought of you is a great email subject line, as a job opportunity is always a good reason to start a conversation — even when people are happily employed.
There are many ways to measure the strength of networking efforts. The most significant ROI, of course, is a job offer, but aside from this, a candidate can measure their networking abilities in several ways:
*Invitations to connect on LinkedIn, from natural, industry-associated individuals, not spam
*People contacting you to ‘hear your thoughts’ or seek your expertise on something (a great request, no doubt, but be sure to manage your time effectively)
*More varied search results — When you Google yourself, you find comments, questions, and other content appearing in the results
Again, there can never be a trustworthy, hard ROI on networking efforts. It is perhaps because of this that people decline from networking altogether because it is difficult to assign a value to a result other than a job offer.
But as time goes on and the workforce becomes accustomed to the digital job search and application process, networking will seem more and more natural for everyone.
On a final note, do not be afraid to customize your networking strategy. While it is essential to read about tips and tactics — such as this blog — be comfortable with trial and error as you find the right mix that works for you. If someone asks what do you say when networking for a new job and they mention their role is open or ask about your past work experience, try one of these statements: “I am passionate about _____ because I have proven my skills by doing it.” Or “My greatest strength is that ______.” You can also share with them how much effort you put into achieving success in your previous roles. Be confident but not cocky! It’s essential to show an interest in the company, so tell them why this opportunity excites you specifically.