Depending on your personality, networking may be the easiest or most difficult part of your job search. Either way, it’s an important one. Of course, networking has taken many new forms with online social networks. Keeping connected with your personal network, growing your professional network in person, and maintaining an appropriate online presence are all an important part of being successful.
First Level Contacts
Many people miss the easy opportunity for networking with the people they know well. Be sure that your first level contacts – family, friends, and former co-workers – know that you’re on the job hunt. If you’re open about your search, the more likely they will be to mention an opportunity or something that they’ve heard about.
Having more people aware of your job search greatly increases the chance of finding a position that might not be advertised. Even if there aren’t direct connections, look for opportunities to have your first-level contacts (people you know) introduce you to new people (people they know) who may be able to assist your job search. Ask those people for contacts as well.
You should think of everyone who could possibly serve as a contact. Don't limit yourself to people who could clearly help you out like CEOs, business owners, or people who work in your occupation, because more accessible people like your insurance agent or neighbor in unrelated fields often have contacts that they would be happy to share with you because you never know who they know.
Potential contacts include your family, friends, neighbors, current or former co-workers, alumni, professors, church acquaintances, volunteer members, business owners, executives, doctors, journalists, local politicians, bankers, insurance agents, hairdressers, realtors, auto mechanics, etc.
Remember the basics when approaching first-level contacts about your job search:
Second Level Contacts
Second level contacts are people that you’ve been introduced to by a first-level contact. Second-level contacts can help you find job leads, industry information, or other connections. It is especially important to honor and be respectful of second-level contacts, as the reputation of the first-level contact who introduced you is inextricably tied to yours.
Depending on your profession, it may be a good idea to attend meetings of a local group related to your profession. Companies often send jobs to these organizations to circulate to their members. At the very least, you may build some skill in your field and show you are keeping your skills current while you look for work.
Networking Groups and Meetups
Meeting new people in person can be a good way to establish a connection and build relationships. From a job search perspective, be sure that the in-person networking you do adds value. It takes time to grab coffee with friends so be sure that it adds to your job search and isn’t just a welcome distraction. Try to leverage any connections you can find with employers that you are targeting.
Local organizations often hold networking events with the purpose of bringing people together to meet each other. These events often have different goals – education, business contacts, job seeking, volunteering, etc. Attending networking events can be a good way to meet new people and get contacts that can lead to job leads or other contacts. At all networking events, be sure to be prepared ahead of time, use good networking etiquette, and follow up afterward.
Making a good impression at networking events is important. We recommend dressing well for networking events in order to make a good impression. Also, have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish at the event, whether that is meeting new people, learning something new, or socializing.
One way to connect is by creating job seeker business cards if you’re not currently employed. The job seeker business card simply contains your contact information and a few very basic things about you. There are several places you can have business cards created at a very affordable price.
After the event, be sure to organize your contacts. Use a spreadsheet to track all of your contacts as you add more people. Since you will meet a wide range of people, it can be very difficult to keep track of all of them. Keeping organized after the event will help you follow up with people with whom you made a connection or who may be able to introduce you to another contact.
One of the underrated ways to get contacts is by volunteering. Many people have made important connections or got a job by volunteering. At the very least, you would have done something valuable for the community and at best you’re doing a great job networking. We recommend that every job seeker spend a few hours a week in a volunteer role.
Create an online profile and search for connections from your previous work experience. In many ways, your completed profile serves as an online resume that can be found by employers. If possible, get recommendations from past colleagues and build your profile.
Tips for maximizing your profile:
Of course, use good judgment when utilizing online social networking. Since employers search social networks, make sure that the information that is available online is appropriate.Networking FAQs