Networking plays a crucial role in the job search process. It involves building and maintaining professional relationships with individuals who can provide information, guidance, referrals and support in your job search and career prospects.
You may have heard the term “It’s not what you know,’ it’s who you know”? While this may seem a little unfair, particularly if you know you are the right candidate for a role, it can indeed be the reality of job search. There is a hidden job market where up to 70% of jobs are not advertised. These roles are most commonly filled through referrals and networks. Hence the importance to build your network, build genuine connections and nurture professional relationships. You want to be sure that YOU are front of mind when someone is recruiting or requesting referrals for job applicants from trusted sources.
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. Networking requires time and effort and my recommendation is to approach it with a genuine desire to build meaningful connections and contribute to the professional community. It’s also about helping others, as much as it is about helping yourself.
When done correctly, networking for job search can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information and support to 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! 70% of all jobs are not advertised and are searched through networks initially.
10 Tips for Effective Networking
To help you network and potentially secure your next job opportunity here are 10 tips for effective networking. When followed and done consistently you will find that you can effectively grow your network, elevate your personal brand and enjoy the process!
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, 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 relationships 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, developing a contact list. LinkedIn is so much more than a platform to apply for advertised roles. It’s also a professional networking platform that helps you stay front 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 support.
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, industry events and networking events are readily available in your area and discoverable via online searches. Take 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 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!
Never Stop Networking
Don’t forget that networking is an ongoing process and should not be limited to times when you are only actively searching for a job. Cultivating relationships and nurturing your professional network regularly can provide long-term benefits and open doors to future opportunities. You never know what opportunities might present themselves to help you further your career.
I am a passionate Career Coach who works with individuals in the explore and search phase of their career journey, helping you realise your strengths through my career coaching and training programs. I enjoy showing people the path to greater career satisfaction and providing insight and tools to help you make your next career move.