How to Use Your Network
There are a few ways to use your network to find a new opportunity. The first is to contact specific people in your network — or your entire network — and let them know you are looking for ideas, information, advice, and contacts/referrals. Even if you’re contacting someone with the power to hire you, don’t ask for a job. Ask for advice or assistance, not a job. Create a networking cover letter (samples are included in this guide) and send the letter with your resume to each of the contacts in your network. This is the broadest way to use your network, and can be useful if you are currently unemployed and not worried about jeopardizing your current job by visibly pursuing a new one.
A more effective way to use your network is a more targeted approach. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific job goal. The more specific you are about what you need or what you’re looking for, the more likely you are to get what you want.
For example, if you see an advertised opening for a position, go through your network and see who might be able to provide you with access to the hiring manager (or someone else who works at the company), information about that specific company (or the company’s position in the industry), or information about the specific position you’re seeking.
You can use your network contact to make an introduction to a hiring manager — either asking them to pass along your resume to that individual, introducing you directly, or allowing you to use their name when making an initial contact.
Technology and Networking
Social media can also be effective for helping you achieve your networking goals. You can let your network know you are looking for a new position by posting status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This is particularly useful if you are currently unemployed and you’re not worried about your boss finding out you’re seeking a new position. (Even if you have your social media profile privacy settings locked down, remember that anything you post online can potentially become public information — all it takes is someone you know taking a screenshot of what you’ve posted, or mentioning the information, and it’s no longer private.)
You can also research a potential connection using social media. Find out if the person has a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, or Twitter account. LinkedIn is particularly effective in helping you take your existing contacts and leverage them into even more networking opportunities. You can see how you’re connected to a company or another individual using LinkedIn.
Use social media to arrange in-person get-togethers. For example, if you make a new contact on LinkedIn, if they are local, arrange to meet them in person. Technology makes networking easier, but face-to-face interaction is still the best way to network.
You can also use technology to personalize your networking, even when you are contacting many people at the same time. (For example, you can use Microsoft Word’s “mail merge” function to create personalized networking letters for each of your contacts.)
Networking Cover Letters
One of the most effective ways to network your way to your new job is to get your resume in the hands of those who are in a position to help you. One way to do this is with a networking cover letter. The purpose of a networking cover letter is to let your network know you’re looking for a position, and ask for specific help. You can send an email or mail the letter and resume.
Here is a sample networking cover letter after a layoff:
Dear (Contact Name):
I am reaching out to you to ask for your help. As you know, my position was eliminated when Chandler-Roth Department Stores was acquired last month.
I am looking to stay in the retail industry and, ideally, remain in the Minneapolis area. My “perfect” job would be another associate manager position — one focused on operations or merchandising (or a combination of both) — in Minnesota or Wisconsin.
I would appreciate any advice, contacts, or industry insights you can share with me. I’ve attached my resume. Please feel free to pass it along to anyone you think may be interested in it. If you know of a company that is looking to grow its retail management staff — or fill any open position — please let me know. I’d also appreciate any recommendations of retail recruiters or recruiters who work on placing management candidates in the Minneapolis area. (I’d prefer to stay in retail, but would potentially consider a management opportunity in a new industry.)
Highlights of my qualifications include:
- Success in delivering year-over-year same-store growth — contributed to 12% growth in 2020 (well ahead of the industry average for non-food sales growth of 2.26%).
- Introduction of innovative product merchandising and customer service programs that have increased average transaction size by 22%.
- Led an employee engagement initiative that reduced turnover by 18% over a six-month period, reducing hiring costs by more than $22,000.
I’m lucky enough to count you as a (friend, colleague, client, co-worker) and I want to thank you for any help you can give me.
P.S. — If you’re on LinkedIn, let’s connect on there. You can find my profile at www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanjobseeker
Here is a sample networking cover letter for a job seeker who is relocating:
Dear (Contact Name):
I recently relocated from California to Ohio. Consequently, I am looking for my next challenge! My focus is a management role drawing on more than 15 years of experience in manufacturing and production. I have enclosed my resume, which outlines my qualifications.
I am asking my network — including you! — to help me identify possible employers that would value someone with my experience and skills. My work history emphasizes supervising production teams (up to 30 employees per shift), keeping manufacturing lines operating at peak capacity with a minimum of downtime, ensuring quality and regulatory compliance, and managing special projects.
If you know of someone I should contact to explore an opportunity, I’d appreciate the referral. You can reach me at (phone number) or email me at (email address).
Networking cover letters can also be used to update contacts about a job search:
Dear (Contact Name):
Happy Spring! I wanted to drop you a note to give you an update on how things are going in my job search. Since leaving ABC Company in January, I completed two short-term contract projects, most recently with XYZ Company. I’ve applied for several full-time accounting positions, but have been finding things to be a bit slow. So now I’m turning to my friends-and-family network for your help!
I’ve enclosed an updated copy of my resume in the hopes that you might be able to help me identify and/or make contact with a company or organization that might need someone with my skills and experience. While I’m most interested in a full-time position, I’m also open to a contract opportunity — particularly one that might lead to a full-time position.
If you know someone who might be interested in what I can do for them, would you mind passing along my resume? And give me a call if you have any ideas for me, or if you want to catch up on things. You can reach me at home (phone) or on my cell (phone).
I appreciate your help!