Every survey you will read today shows that 60-80% of all employment positions are found via networking. These are known as hidden jobs, and if you don’t want to be searching for your next position forever, this is where you will want to focus.
Therefore, this is a critical part of your job search strategy that you need to leverage.
It may seem daunting at first, but don’t let that stop you. The more active you can become in networking, the faster you will find your next position.
Networking Do’s and Don’ts
Before you get started brainstorming on who to reach out to, here are some “must-know” details:
Don’t ask for a job or interview.
Instead ask for ideas, leads, and referrals in your job search. Unless this is someone you know is hiring, your goal is making them feel important and valued – that you know they can give you direction, advice, and strategy. “I know you are well connected (very experienced in this field, etc.) and was wondering if you might take a look at my resume and provide me with any suggestions or advice regarding networking or other strategies.” Make them feel important first before you ask any specific questions.
Don’t focus too narrowly.
I totally understand the temptation to limit your networking to your industry and those directly related to your search. While that is important, you need to broaden your focus to consider other individuals who may seem to have no connection. It’s best to keep an open mind in our well-connected world. Also, stay open with your industry focus as parallel industries could offer a great match as well.
Don’t go in blind.
Unless you meet someone on the street and just feel compelled to ask their advice (yes it happens and can be beneficial), never send an email or make a call to someone you barely know (or don’t know at all) without looking the person up first. Check out their LinkedIn profile and even Google their employer to get a sense of who they are so you will be knowledgeable.
Don’t hide behind your computer.
Please note that while the internet has made it easy to find people and connect, there is still something to be said for face-to-face, in real life (IRL) networking. Attending even one local chapter professional association meeting for your industry could provide the break you are looking for in finding opportunities. Get out there!
Always ask for referrals.
When speaking with someone, always be sure to ask if they can think of anyone else you should be talking to for advice, feedback, and more referrals.
Send a thank-you note.
You’ll likely think it’s old school but the reality is that this is how you stand out in a sea of emails, texts, and social media messaging! You send an old-fashioned note card through the postal service. Don’t go with cutesy cards and simply aim to say, “I wanted to thank you for the time you gave me yesterday. I truly appreciate your ideas and advice. If you think of anyone else I should speak to, please let me know. If there is any way I can return this favor, just reach out.” Then include your business card (yes, it is great for job seekers to have business cards).
Follow up a week after any discussion or meeting.
Here’s the reality: when put on the spot, even folks with the best intentions won’t necessarily think of a referral for you. When they do think of someone a day later they’ll mean to reach out to you but likely get busy and forget. A week later when they remember and feel guilty, they’ll make themselves feel better by telling themselves if you were still in need you would have followed up. So, just follow up! It’s as easy as a phone call, email, or social media message (however you communicate with the individual) saying, “Thanks again for your advice last week. I just wanted to check in and see if had any other suggestions or referrals come to mind.”