You check the newspaper or online listings, see a position that could be great for you, and you apply to it – never to hear from that organization. Does this scenario sound familiar? With fewer jobs in the marketplace, competition is extremely fierce. But if this single, traditional method of finding new employment isn’t working for you, you need to add another strategy to your toolbox. One strategy is networking. Here are some tips that you can to create necessary relationships and get the exposure you need for landing a new job:
- Making a list, checking it twice: Before you can determine how to build your relationships, you first need to figure out who belongs to your network. Include the usual suspects, such as current and former co-workers and managers, recruiters, and any other professional relationships you have formed. But that’s just one level in your circle. Think of friends, acquaintances, anyone on business cards in your wallet – in essence, include anyone who could possibly be a connection. You never know where an opportunity could be.
- Meet and greet: To continue building your network, you need to create new relationships too. You can do this by joining professional conferences and workshops, or even by leading them. Attend Chamber of Commerce business meetings, meet with new recruiters, or join online groups. Don’t restrict yourself to simply those in your working world or industry. Talk to your neighbors, friends of friends, even your preschooler’s teacher. Most people are happy to chat and offer help through a connection – but be willing to make the first move.
- Build relationships and stay in touch: It’s great to strike up a conversation or accept a business card, but that’s only the beginning. You need to remain in people’s memory if they are to think of you when an opportunity appears. Therefore, you need to stay connected. If you attended one Chamber of Commerce meeting, then attend another and introduce yourself when you’re there. Ask and answer questions in online forums – this can show your interest in industry topics and demonstrate your knowledge. Chat regularly with recruiters to display your enthusiasm. Email or have coffee with associates to learn about current issues. Being motivated and staying interested will keep you fresh in others’ minds.
- Do unto others: Chances are, if you are hoping to network your way to a new job, someone else will be too. Therefore, if you know of opportunities, make sure you let others know. When you’re willing to help others, then they will be happier to return the favor should one arise.
- Be patient: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your network. It can take weeks, even months, to create new relationships, and even longer for that special opportunity to appear. So be patient and enjoy the new people in your life.
- Be prepared: Be like the Boy Scouts and be prepared. You may not have much time to work on your resume, cover letter, or portfolio samples after hearing about an opportunity – so be ready beforehand. Don’t just have one version of everything available. Because each opportunity is unique, you should have several versions of your resume, cover letter, portfolio samples ready to go. Employers will recognize the customized details and it will mean less stress for you.
Taking the time and making the effort to build and maintain, your network is well worth the effort when it comes to getting a new job. Just remember – the connections you that create today will help you move forward in your career tomorrow.