It’s not what you know, but who you know.
For those with connections, these are the greatest words of wisdom ever uttered. For those without, hearing this can be as discouraging as hearing that Nicki Minaj is #1 on the weekend’s top 40 chart.
For many students and recent grads looking to enter the workforce for the first time, networking might be something which you aren’t exactly sure how to approach.
However, it just might be the key to locating and locking down that dream job.
Networking allows you to chat and connect with people you might not have otherwise had the chance to meet. Being able to put a face to a name will make you more memorable, and gives you an advantage in your job search. “Caroline? Oh yes, I met her at that event last week. Nice girl. Let’s keep her resume.”
It also allows you to create a list of contacts to refer to if you ever find yourself out of work. You have people to call to let them know you’re looking and to potentially get something lined up.
The majority of us already have a network (friends, family, friends of the family, neighbours, etc.). The key is to tap into that network by not only letting them know you’re looking for work but what kind of work and what skills you’ll bring to that. These people won’t give you a job but will be able to funnel information back to you and pass your name around to other people they may bump into. “There’s an opening in your company? I actually think I might know someone…”
Take a critical look at the network you already have and see where your buckets are full and where they are empty. If you’re looking to get into marketing but none of your contacts are in that field, this is something you need to focus your energy on. Determine which companies and networking events you need to pursue.
Your elevator pitch is a 30-second sales pitch you can give on a moment’s notice about yourself and what you can deliver. Write one out and rehearse it so whenever you’re put on the spot about your job search, you’re prepared. Make sure it’s short, relevant and speaks to what your skills are.
Social media has changed the face of networking and has been the source for tons of people to get interviews and land jobs. Having an online presence is becoming increasingly important to today’s job market. That being said, if you can’t maintain your online presence, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. All social media platforms – even ones like Facebook which are meant more for your personal life – should be professional. All profile pictures and status updates should be workplace appropriate. Also, having recommendations from previous employers or even professors reflected on your pages gives you an edge and helps you stand out.
…but you can avoid these common ones:
Those new to the networking world often think only about what’s in it for them when they should be viewing it as going both ways. Sure, you’re looking for work but someone may come along and ask you for a referral or something and you should be willing to help them out. This acts as a great way to further develop and maintain contacts.
Ask for help. Ask for help again. After the second time, stop asking. People may not be in a position to help you, so you need to know what your limits are.
Sometimes a networking attempt doesn’t go well, causing you to give up on it completely. Networking is ongoing – you have to attend more than one event and just keep at it. Like everything in life, the more you do it, the better you’ll be at it and the more you’ll start to get out of it in return.