If you are like me, you grew up at a time when there were regular sayings you’d hear from the people around you. Nowadays these may pop up as quotes, or even memes, via your favourite social media channel.

One of these popular sayings “It’s not what you know,’ it’s who you know” and this is something I’m going to explore with you today in the context of your job search.

Curious about the origins of this saying I did a bit of googling and discovered the following*.

“This is an ‘idiomatic saying” that’s generally interpreted to mean that it doesn’t really matter how intelligent a person is or how well suited they may be to a role because of past experience or qualifications; if there is somebody else who is better connected to a person in a position of power, that better-connected individual is likely to be privileged over the better-qualified first person.”

What! How depressing, you may be thinking. Why is Marina sharing this with me?  But it does explain how some people who are very clearly incompetent, or have big gaps in their skill set, are appointed to positions they are not qualified to be in.

Please hear me out . . .

Sometimes, we can use this tendency for our own benefit and it’s a good idea to network with others and ensure we are a well-known name or face. Of course we need to have the necessary skills and qualifications and so networking is about making contacts and building relationships that can keep YOU top of mind and lead to jobs or other related job opportunities.

The Power of Networking for Job Search

Networking can be one of the most powerful tools in your job search toolkit and starts with a mindset and intention to discover, explore and be open to what you may encounter. It’s about helping others and helping yourself.

Done right, networking for job search can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information and support and can make it easier for you to find a job because:

  • People are more likely to introduce you to their circles, interview and appoint you if they know and trust you as it reduces risk for them!
  • Job listings tend to draw piles of applicants which put you in intense competition with many others.
  • The job you want may not be advertised at all! 60% of all jobs are not advertised and are searched through networks initially.

10 Tips for Effective Networking

So let’s break it down into 10 bite sized pieces and work through what you need to do to use ‘being known’ to your advantage to secure your next opportunity.

1. Develop a Contact List

It’s my experience that most people know more people than they think. Start by making a list of your friends, colleagues (past and present), neighbours, community, past employers and reach out to them. There are a variety of ways to do this, which I explore in the following tips.

2. Be Clear with your Intention

Everyone is busy these days and so it’s important to be clear about why you want to speak with your contact and how long you may need from them. Some people may be happy to catch up for a coffee, others may prefer a brief phone chat. It’s about asking the right questions and being clear that you’d like their opinion and views based on the information you need from them. For example, there may be a specific person you’d like them to introduce you to, they may work in a specific industry you’d like to learn more about, or they may be employed in a job role you’d like to explore further.  They may have specific information about current employment opportunities, the market and what opportunities really exist.

3. Focus on Building Relationships

Focus on building the relationships around you and investing time (and maybe also the cost of a coffee or meal) in sharing with your contacts where you are at and what specific information you’d potentially like from them.

By being authentic and specific about your intentions as well as considerate about their potential time constraints, and offering to help them in any way you can, you are likely to uncover important information from your contacts in your job search. The goal may also be for them to keep in you ‘in mind’ if they hear about potential job openings or opportunities relevant to your skills and experience. But it’s not about asking them for a job! See the next tip to explain what I mean.

Relationships are a two way street and it’s therefore important for you to be considerate and ask your contacts how you can also help them if they’ve been kind enough to give you their time and knowledge.

4. Ask for Guidance Not a Job

Your contacts represent a wealth of potential information that can assist you. It’s more powerful to position the conversation around how they could help you, or what guidance or advice they may can provide, based on their experience, position and industry knowledge, rather than asking if they can help you get a job where they work.

5. Have a Strong Pitch

In networking conversations it’s essential that you’re able to clearly communicate your strengths, achievements and experience. Be proud and enthusiastic about what you’ve done and talk about it, because you are your greatest ambassador!

This is definitely the area many people struggle with, because it’s not our natural tendency to promote our own self worth. While I understand you’d prefer your results, resume and LinkedIn profile to do the talking for you, networking for job search is all about being able to clearly and confidently articulate your strengths and preferences.

If you need help in this area, I offer 1:1 sessions to help build your confidence and practice your pitch when you are approaching a networking conversation for this purpose.

6. Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Connections

In some cases, LinkedIn may be the first point of contact for re-connecting with the contact list you developed in step 1.  Linkedin is so much more than a platform to apply for advertised roles. It’s also a professional networking platform that helps you stay top of mind with your connections and build new ones.

I encourage you to leverage the messaging function of this platform and make sure you are connected to EVERYONE you know.  Connect, build relationships and then ask for help

7. Be Ready to Network Anytime, Anyplace and with Anyone!

I have many stories I share with my clients about the curious places I’ve had networking conversations. The most recent was on a train, when I observed a fellow passenger (who I did not know) who was looking a little glum. I initiated a conversation, asking if she was okay, and we ended up having a lovely chat about a recent job interview (which she felt she’d bombed out in) and I offered her some tips for the next one.

You never know where and when your next opportunity will come from and so I encourage you to be curious and have a genuine interest in those around you in any given situation you find yourself in. Even on a train!

8. Attend Networking Events

There are so many opportunities to attend networking events in Melbourne. MeetUps, Seminars, workshops and networking meetings are readily available in your area and discoverable via online searches. By taking the time to attend relevant networking events you are building your knowledge of the industry you want to work in, building your connections and creating potential opportunities for yourself. It’s also a great place to practice your pitch and develop industry and market intelligence that may just help you in a future job interview.

9. Recognise You Will Have Good Days and Bad Days

The reality is that not all people will respond to your request to help, and that’s okay. Most people are very busy and doing their best to keep all of the balls they are juggling up in the air. Don’t let anyone’s reluctance to help deter you or slow down your momentum.

Keep going!  Persistence, being curious and having a sense of humour are vital ingredients for successful networking.

10. Be Grateful and Offer Thanks

I’m confident that if you follow the tips I’ve suggested, then you’ll be well on your way to opening new doors and securing your next job opportunity. You’ll probably also learn a lot about yourself and others along the way. Once your job search is over, please remember to thank the people that helped you in the networking phase of your job search.

And you might even like to pay if forward for someone else!

*Source: enotes.com Droxonian, Certified Educator

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