Updated: May 17
It can be easy to think landing a job should not take the work it does. After all, you have the education and some experience, so shouldn’t an employer just see what you bring to the table and hire you? If only it were that simple. For most of us, landing a job is a much more complicated process. One important piece of that process is networking. You never know who you will meet or when you’ll encounter the next person who could lead to a job, so here’s everything you should be doing to put yourself out there.
1. Just get started.
The first step for successful networking is to just get going. That can be difficult if you’re easily intimidated or shy by nature, so do what it takes to make the effort. Schedule your first networking group meeting or reach out to someone you admire on LinkedIn. If you’re polite yet direct with people, it’s easy to start up a short conversation.
2. Find the right people.
Who are the right people? Not to sound obvious, but that is anyone who will lead to a job possibility. This could include former bosses, co-workers, friends in your industry, alumni from your college, etc. The list is really endless. Think about who’s in your circle or who you can reach online who might lead to your ideal job.
3. Focus on the relationship.
Keep in mind that successful networking is all about building a good relationship. It’s not about constantly being a salesperson for yourself. Make sure you are really connecting with your networking partner before you make any requests of them. Like building any relationship, this starts with generally asking questions and showing an interest in what they are up to at work and how their company is doing.
4. Make sure to follow up.
One mistake people make when networking with people is letting the connection die off. When you leave an interaction with someone, try to set up the next meeting to further foster the connection. If you find it’s difficult to secure any more of this person’s time, send them notes or articles that you think will interest them so that you stay in front of them somehow.
5. Be ready to talk about your industry.
If you’re trying to land a job in your field, one thing you want to do for sure is show major enthusiasm for what you do. A way to stay on top of this is to conduct a regular Google News search to see what is new in your industry. Then, you can meet up with another contact in your field and say, “I read just the other day that…” It’s a great way to break the ice and start any kind of conversation too.
6. Don’t just be a taker.
A common mistake job seekers make is to just look for what they can get from a networking partner. It’s easy to do because everyone is busy, and you may want to just focus on what you need and move on. Instead, look for what you can do for this person as well. For example, do you know a great candidate who can work in another position they are looking to fill? This is a great way to give back and offer what you can.
7. Network online and in person.
Don’t limit yourself in terms of how you might meet someone who you can network with. Join an in-person networking group but also look for any way you can connect with people online. There are virtual events you can attend, and you can always reach out to people who interest you through social media. Also, be open to who you might meet at places like a church, at the gym, or when you’re out and about running errands. Bottom line, you never know who might lead to a job.