Networking – everyone hates it but done well and professionally it helps significantly when commencing a job search. The problem today is the majority of candidates think they only need to network when they start looking to take that next step in their career. However, networking has proven to be one of the most consistently successful ways to find a new job. It can sound scary or even intimidating, and you might prefer to do things the old-fashioned way by applying for jobs and crossing your fingers. But the moment a role is advertised to the market, the odds are already against you, so it is better to be proactive and start growing your connections. If you consistently work to grow your network and remain in touch with those key influential people, when they become aware of a vacant role, they will have you in the forefront of their mind.
Too many candidates are reactive when it comes to looking for a job, they expect the opportunities to come rushing in when deciding it is time for a change. Whereas, the proactive candidate has identified or heard about their next role, often before it is vacant because their network has informed them of the impending vacancy. They achieve this by actively growing their network and developing contacts, often directly with employers, or at least influential individual who generate and provide them with information on job opportunities. So, if you are serious about a career change, take the plunge put yourself out there and start connecting with people, you will surprise yourself how it will help you secure job opportunities.
Two important tips for networking to increase your chances of obtaining your ideal position.
1. Keep track of your contacts
It is human nature to build relationships, form connections and grow your network even find new friends. Use this basic human need for social interactions and make yourself attend networking events specific to your industry or profession. This is a fabulous way to start informal conversations in a friendly manner. When you meet a new connection, give them your business card, sit and talk with them and be present and genuinely interested in what they are saying, but most importantly reach out to them afterward to enhance the relationship. This can be done through numerous forums, one is to send a request on LinkedIn with a friendly note, reminding them where you met and thank them for their connection. LinkedIn is a brilliant tool to grow your network and maintain contact.
People often assume you are happy in your role and that you won’t be open to change. Once you have built rapport with your network and decide it is time to change, subtly let them know you are open to new opportunities.
2. Look for a mentor
Identifying mentors, who are well connected is another great, more formal avenue to assist with networking. You want to build trust and form genuine, meaningful relationships with your intended connections and often it is those people closest to you are the ones who will help you the most in achieving this. If you are really serious about growing your network, not just for now but for the future, search for mentors who can assist you in developing your career, and not just someone who can introduce you to whoever is hiring at the time.
The best mentors are people who will challenge you and your thinking and won’t just tell you what you want to hear. Over time they are also more likely to help you if you take the time to build a genuine, open and transparent relationship with them
Instead of asking a new connection for a job, ask them for advice or guidance as to the path you are thinking for your career. Asking straight away for a job is a request that creates pressure and can be off-putting to people who may potentially have helped you in the future. Be subtle and ask for help, make yourself vulnerable as another basic human instinct is to help and be wanted, and be asking for advice you are satisfying both.
Authentic Networking is a two-way relationship that involves you making connections and relating to others, but also helping them. So, remember, don’t be fake, don’t be overbearing or have an unrealistic expectation. Be who you are, genuine and authentic. If you introduce your network to each other for mutual benefit, with no expectation of a reward, then the opportunities are more likely to come to you.
Remember, the only person who is going to get the most out of your career is you!
If you get the opportunity to meet a few influential people along the way, then do it!
Put yourself into the traffic.
If you hide away in a backroom, then you will potential waste your Talent and have an unfulfilled career.