When you are seeking new career opportunities, it pays to diversify your job search strategies. Directly applying to job posts should be your main job-seeking activity, but it shouldn’t be your only activity and it never hurts to know someone with the inside track. Networking can be an effective tool in your job search, but only if you take the right approach. Use these tips to network your way to a new job.
Continually Fill Your Pipeline
If you want networking to work for you, you have to continually make new connections. Job fairs, professional organizations, social gatherings and even your great-uncle’s 90th birthday party are all places to meet new people. Take advantage of every situation you can to talk to new people, even if they are not in your field. You never know where connections may lead.
Be Tactful When Reaching out to Contacts
Contacting every person in your network to ask them to help you will get you nowhere fast, and it could cause lasting damage to your relationships. People want to help, but not without good reason. Lay the groundwork by getting back in touch and inviting contacts to lunch or coffee for a casual catch-up session. During that meeting, ask for advice in your jobs search, not referrals. This is more tactful than asking for a favor out of the blue, and it gives you a reason to follow up later.
Follow up, but Don’t Be a Pest
When you do follow up with connections, don’t be desperate. This may come as a surprise, but your job search isn’t a priority for other people and constantly hounding them to help you will backfire. If someone tells you they cannot help, move on. If someone says they can help, it’s ok to check in with them every so often, but have a reason to send the email or make the call other than, “just checking in on what you can do for me.”
Help Others First
Networking is a two-way street. If your contacts aren’t being helpful, ask yourself what you’ve done for them lately. Make sure you’re helping others by making connections and bringing people together. You can’t ask people to do things for you that you aren’t willing to do yourself.
Make Connections With Recruiters
Many recruiters are open networkers on LinkedIn, which means they welcome connection requests from anyone. However, just because you connect with a recruiter doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get an interview. When making a connection with a recruiter on LinkedIn, explain why you think you’d be a good fit for their network and you’re interested in meeting at a time that fits their schedule. This will help you stand out from the people who simply send generic requests to connect.