Networking is tops in business – and especially in searching for a new job. Yet, the very thought of cold introductions and engaging with a crowd of strangers isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. For all but the most extroverted professional, assertive initiatives, shaking hands and striking up conversations feels like work, especially when there is an agenda attached.
Networking doesn’t have to be so hard, though, advises Carlos Paz, CEO of Fridayd. For most people, one-on-one interactions are easier and more gratifying. To that end, think of your connections as individual touch points to start and nurture relationships because relationship-building is what networking in all about.
“Most people view networking as attending large-scale or formal events designed just for that purpose. Those events are great, but you may be able to make more headway with a more targeted approach when it comes to searching for a new job,” said Paz.
You can network anytime and anywhere with people you connect with in your daily life. Just mentioning your interest in landing a new position in casual conversations can be a great opener to discover new opportunities. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. You can be more deliberate in your approach, though, by connecting with people you think may have greater insights into available jobs.
Follow these easy steps to build targeted networking into your daily job search activities:
- Reach out to one existing contact everyday by phone or email to stay in touch and ask about job openings they may be aware of. Ask if you can share your resume and if the connection will forward it on if he/she learns of a suitable opening. Email is a less-threating way to connect that even the most introverted job seeker can undertake. However, nothing beats an actual conversation by phone or in person. Continually rotate through your list of contacts so you stay top of mind with your friends, former colleagues and business associates.
- Schedule lunch or coffee two times a week with existing contacts to nurture the relationships and discuss your search.
- Find one activity of interest a week to get you out and mingling. It doesn’t have to be a business networking event. You can meet people pursuing any passion or interest. What’s key is weaving in the right job search questions in your conversations.
- Strike up conversations with neighbors about positions you are seeking.
- Directly email a recruiter at companies you apply to. Don’t just apply and think you’ve done all that you can do. Get your foot in the door, introduce yourself and start a relationship through email or even by phone. Note, however, that most recruiters may screen incoming calls. You may have a better chance grabbing attention with email.
- Work your LinkedIn contacts like a honey badger. Don’t just reach out once. Check back often to see if your contacts know of any emerging positions. Ask for introductions to second and third connections who may be helpful in your search. Most professionals are willing to help, and you may get a chance to return the favor down the road. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
- Research and discover recruiters at targeted companies that don’t currently have an open position. Introduce yourself and share your resume. Many positions don’t make it to the job posting stage. You can raise awareness of your interest and credentials in the event that a position does become available.
Face-to-face encounters are superior for connecting and creating new relationships in your job search, but you can still make an impression, form new alliances and nurture your contacts in other ways. “The most important thing,” said Paz, “is that you make networking a primary part of your job search activities and that you don’t slack in this area. There are so many communications channels to take advantage of; even super socially inhibited professionals can network easily.”