We all know that well-crafted resumes, cover letters, and a decent list of qualifications are essential when it comes to landing a job, but sometimes having an “in” can get your foot in the door a lot faster. In the world of job searching, sometimes it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. You know?
Here’s the deal:
So how do we go about building these relationships? With a little tool called “networking.” Here are 9 steps to help you network and build valuable professional relationships.
A great way to branch out and meet people for your network is to get involved in local community organizations. There’s an endless number of ways you can meet people to help you in your job search, and joining a community organization is one of the easiest and most accessible, because they exist right in your neighborhood!
There’s an endless variety of organizations to suit any interest. For example, you could join your school’s local alumni chapter, a political organization, charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Planned Parenthood — the hard part will picking which one to donate your time to.
Getting involved is a great way to make a positive impact on your community and to meet people outside of your immediate circle of coworkers, friends, and family.
Don’t let those invites rot away in your inbox! Instead of ignoring them to binge watch your favorite Netflix original, slap on a happy face and go to those events! They’re great opportunities for networking, and they’ll benefit you in the long run. Plus, you can’t make new connections if you’re never around new people.
Push yourself to accept invites and actually go to social events, particularly if they’re outside of your inner circle. At a party, there’s no pressure to be professional and exchange business information — you’re there to meet people and have fun!
Plus, attending a party or a fundraiser where you know a few people is much less awkward than going to a networking event where you’re surrounded by total strangers.
No one ever made any valuable career connections by telling people they’re ugly and only talking about themselves. It’s easy to get discouraged (and maybe even a little bitter) when your job hunt isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but just remember to use other people’s success as an opportunity to introduce yourself and network — even if it is a little painful.
When someone you know gets a big break, you should try to meet up with them and compliment them on their success. Even if you see them as your competition, put your petty differences aside. If you want to build a solid network, you’re going to have to encourage others and be supportive of their achievements.
Before you go to a networking event, a career fair, or an informational interview, make sure to do some research on the people and companies you’re interested in speaking with. Your goal is to lead the conversation to shared interests so there’s never awkward pauses or silence.
Making a personal connection is great for making adding a valuable resource to your network. An easy way to make a solid connection is to find a common interest, whether it be hiking or an affinity for drinking craft beer, it’s a great way to make someone remember you on a personal level.
In our technology-obsessed world, social media is a valuable tool for staying in touch and connecting with others. Whenever you meet people, ask if they’re active on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Afterward, connect with them on these platforms and grow your network.
One of the biggest networking essentials to always have at the ready is your awesome elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is a 30 second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do, and why you’d be an ideal candidate for a job. The idea is that you should be able to share this information in the time that it takes to ride the elevator.
Being clear about your employment goal is a key aspect of successful networking. Prepare some talking points and practice discussing them, from your career goals to your employment history. You never know when a networking opportunity will pop up!
Make sure to keep a detailed record of your networking activity to use for future reference, and also to keep track of who’s who so you don’t get anyone confused. Take note of the following questions:
For each of your new connects, figure out the next steps for maintaining your relationship and how you’re going to follow up. You can do this with index cards, a notebook, or a document on your computer.
And with that in mind…
To get the most from your conversations and maintain your professional relationships, you should always make the effort to show your gratitude in a thank you email or a handwritten letter. Whatever gets the job done.
And finally, another important aspect of networking is to make yourself a resource for other job seekers. Offer advice when you can, refer others to job leads in their field, ad always be a source of support. You’re in this together, after all.
When it comes to finding a job, sometimes it’s all about who you know. Job leads can come from anywhere, and you never know who could be a valuable resource for you in the future.
Make sure to brush up on your social skills, get involved in your community, and support other people in your network and you’re sure to land the job of your dreams!