If there were a single thing you could do to supercharge your efforts to create your best job, it would be networking. In all the years we’ve spent matching East Texas job seekers with area employers there’s something we’ve found to be consistently powerful and true: Networking leads to jobs.
Do everything you can to let anyone and everyone know you’re actively seeking employment, and then follow up on every single lead you receive. A huge part of a job search is networking!
Is Networking Really That Important?
Some people were already social networking before such a term even existed. They seem to effortlessly make, then retain connections everywhere they go. You don’t have to tell those people about the importance of networking because they couldn’t stop doing it if they tried.
For the rest of us, networking as part of the job search can be somewhere between an uncomfortable prospect and a necessary evil. We’ve heard it’s a good idea. But we don’t know how best to go about it, and we’re not completely convinced it’s worth the effort. It’s much easier to sit around in our pajamas and scroll through online job postings. Online job searching is important and necessary, but statistically it does not produce near the results as networking.
Networking is the most common way to get a job. Some experts say 70 percent of currently employed people are in their current job because of networking. Others say that number is as high as 85 percent.
Why Networking Works
The biggest reason networking is so effective is that it gives you backdoor access to jobs that might not even be posted or advertised. Employers fill a huge percentage of postings internally, or because of internal connections. Often it goes like this:
Mary has worked as a highly paid expert at your best job for the past several years. Her husband gets transferred out of town. At the water cooler, she mentions she’s about to turn in her notice. One of her co-workers remembers her best friend mentioned a neighbor looking for similar work. She helps the neighbor and the supervisor connect, and the neighbor gets the job.
The main takeaway is this – if so many jobs are never posted, you won’t find them by sending resumes. To find your best job, make your resume and cover letter the best they can be and apply to all the possibilities that fit your criteria, but don’t spend the entirety of your job search hiding behind a computer screen. Networking has been proven to be the best way to get more referrals and secure a new opportunity. We have certainly found this to be true in our agency as a significant number of the candidates we place come to us via personal referrals.
4 Steps to Successful Networking
Successful networking means getting the word out about what you’re looking for and how you’re qualified. Tell everyone, because you never know who can provide you with the contact that will lead to your best job. Work on expanding your network as you search-it is like “dropping a stone into the pond.” Here’s how to do it.
1 – Print Business Cards
Have business cards printed with your contact information. We also recommend including the address of your LinkedIn Profile. Instead, of a job title, include a broad description of your work, such as accountant, marketing professional, administrative assistant, etc. Give cards to everyone you meet.
2 – Reach Out to Contacts
Keep in mind with every job search activity you complete, the goal is to book interviews with decision makers. Your contacts can help you accomplish that goal, but you need to ask for their help. Send a letter or email to your family and friends that says something like the following:
I’m writing to let you know about an important development in my career. I am actively looking for a new role and would greatly appreciate your support and insight. I have ——-years of experience in the —- field/industry and am most interested in [state the types of jobs that represent your current interests].
A copy of my resume is attached. I would greatly appreciate any advice, referrals or opportunities you might offer.
I hope everything is going well in your life. Thank you in advance for your help!
Sign your name
(Don’t forget to attach your resume).
3 – Find Networking Opportunities
Use the Internet to find dates, times, and locations for opportunities like these:
- Networking events – The Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce frequently has “business after hours” events for networking. Eventbrite lists networking events by location. The Tyler Young Professionals Network also hosts networking events.
- Job fairs – These can provide great leads if you attend the right ones. Talk to a job fair representative to find out if the employers attending are hiring candidates with your skills.
- Associations in your profession – There’s an association for everything. The people who join are usually those who have become successful at what they do. They want to learn from others who have been successful, and they’re also willing to give back. When you attend meetings and interact with association members, give your two minute commercial and you’ll be amazed at the results.
- Non-profit organization events or gatherings – This type of event or gathering provides an opportunity to network with a diverse group of people all looking to help others and make a difference. As you join them in their goals, you also can make connections that further your job search.
4 – Don’t Forget Social Media Networking
Social media isn’t just for sharing funny pet videos and vacation photos. It’s also a job networking tool. First, go through your feeds and delete anything you wouldn’t want prospective employers to see. Look at what’s in the background of your photos, and evaluate messages for potentially charged language.
Next, if you don’t already use LinkedIn, create and optimize your account. Make sure your photo is current and shows you at your professional best. Add to your profile all the keywords and skills found in your resume. Then, start connecting with other people you know to build your network.
Follow Up on Every Lead
In our next article, we’re going to talk about how follow up is critical. As you network, make note of every possible lead and stay tuned for more on how to turn those contacts into job interviews.