Networking is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a job seeker. It’s an amazing way to meet new people, build new relationships, and find new opportunities!
But, when you’re searching for a job, time is quite literally money. The less time you spend unemployed, the better. So, my top advice is to have a networking strategy before you go connecting with people. This way, you can target your efforts so you’ll save time and money. Here are my 7Cs for pre-networking planning:
If you don’t know what you want, how can others help you? Before you think about networking, take the time to get clear on what you want and what makes you unique. This will help you can market yourself to new connections who can assist you on your path towards finding your dream job!
I would never say ‘don’t network with certain people’, because you never know when a new connection can mean a new opportunity. But, if you’re networking with a purpose in mind (like finding a new job), targeting your search so that you connect with a specific group of people that are relevant to your job search will help you get results faster. You can do this by identifying your targetted ROIs – a shortlist of the roles you see yourself in as well as the organizations and industries that you would like to join.
Now that you know your targeted ROIs, it’s time to do your due diligence. This is where you conduct research so that you can understand the trends and opportunities in your chosen industry. It’s also your chance to take stock of what’s in demand and how your strengths fit with the market’s needs. Once you’re clear on these, search through LinkedIn to find key players in your industry or top performers at your target organization. Take note of how they format their LinkedIn profiles so that you can update yours to match the preferences of your industry!
4. Contact List
This is when you put together a list of everyone who you want to connect with, including hiring managers, recruiters, top performers, key players, and members of your alumni network. The more organized you are, the quicker you’ll see results! I would recommend making an Excel spreadsheet of the 100 people you want to connect to so that you can keep track of who you need to contact.
5. Communication messages
Write out a set of pre-made outreach messages so that you can complete your hit list quickly. In your messages to your connections, make sure to outline where you are in your career, why you’re reaching out to a specific person, and how they can help you. The same goes for if you’re asking for an introduction.
Make your connections, send your outreach messages, and cross their names off your hit list!
Make sure to follow up with the responses you get from your outreach by planning a time to meet. If you know that your connection may be too busy to see you in person, suggest a phone call, Google Hangout, or Skype call. Remember that they are taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, so be sure to prepare the questions you would like to ask them as well as a meeting agenda beforehand. I would also recommend sending them this agenda in the email so that your meeting is as productive as possible.
Do you have any questions about networking? Let me know in the comments section!