Whether you’re a recent graduate, returning to the workforce or wanting to advance your career, networking is something you need in your toolkit to successfully land a new job. It can help foster strong relationships that may lead to job opportunities, referrals, and mentorship. However, networking can be a daunting process that takes a lot of motivation, determination and courage.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of networking is having access to jobs that may not be posted on an online job board. Many positions are only shared internally or through networking. Roughly 80% of new jobs aren’t listed, and sometimes the only way to find out about new openings is through networks. Therefore, reaching out to your contacts is crucial in finding out about these opportunities. A LinkedIn survey found that 85% of jobs are filled through networking.
Here are five networking tips you can follow to help increase your chances of landing a new job.
1. Compile List of Connections
One of the first steps you can take is to make a list of all the people in your network. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive; it can include family, friends, former coworkers, professors and former employers. Even if you’re straight out of school or building a network from scratch, looking into your contact list or through social media accounts is a great place to start. In addition, these primary networks can also introduce you to more people. For example, your friend can introduce you to their uncle who works in the same industry you’re seeking to join.
Once you’ve formulated a list of contacts, it’s time to start reaching out to them. Mention you’re looking for a new job, and make sure you specify what type of job you’re looking for and if they know anyone in the industry. Always keep your list of professional contacts up-to-date.
2. Build/Maintain Relationship with Network
Any relationship requires reciprocation, and networks are no exception. While you may seek their help regarding new job opportunities, don’t forget to offer assistance when they need it. Networking shouldn’t be one-sided; it should benefit both parties. Helping your network can strengthen your relationship and possibly increase the chances of them wanting to help you in return. Examples include reaching out if there’s a relevant job posting or connecting them to a potential contact.
Also, make sure you keep in regular contact with your network, if possible. A survey found that 61% of professionals say frequent interactions with their network can lead to potential job opportunities. Sometimes a simple email, text or call to catch up can go a long way. A friendly conversation may eventually lead to talks about careers, which can, in turn, lead to a job.
3. Take Advantage of Social Media
Social networking sites have made communication so much easier, especially when searching for and reaching out to potential connections. LinkedIn is one of the best social media sites to use for networking. It allows you to search for any company to connect with professionals. A survey found that 35% of respondents say conversations on LinkedIn Messaging led to a new opportunity. LinkedIn offers the following tips on how to use the site as a networking tool effectively:
- Connect with people you know. Make sure to scroll through the “People You May Know” section to discover more potential connections.
- Reconnect with contacts. You can send them a simple message wishing them well or interact with their posts.
- Share experiences and insights. Make sure you post regularly and try to get your contacts to engage with your post.
- Seek help from your network. If you feel comfortable enough, you can ask contacts to introduce you to their hiring manager.
Facebook is another excellent option as you can join specific groups related to your industry and start making connections there. Twitter is another platform for networking where you can connect with recruiters or hiring managers by engaging with their tweets. Before reaching out to hiring managers, make sure your personal social media profile is professional and current.
4. Expand Your Network
There are many events where you can make new connections and expand your network. For example, you can attend conventions, university alumni networking events, mixers or job fairs to meet other people within your current field. Take advantage of these situations by preparing a pitch and list of questions to make a great first impression.
Another way to meet new people is by joining clubs or groups. A professional organization can offer workshops and seminars on professional development and connect you with individuals within your current or future career field.
Volunteering is also another great way to expand your network because it allows you to work with a wide array of like-minded individuals. It’s a low-pressure environment where you can get to know your peers and create valuable connections.
5. Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a quick explanation of who you are, what job position you’re seeking, what you do and why you’re the perfect candidate. Pitches should be less than a minute long. Since elevator pitches are so short, you’ll need to explain what value you can bring to a company clearly.
Before you attend networking events, you must perfect your pitch and know it by heart. You never know who you will meet during these events, and you should be prepared for anything. A general template you can follow is to list a couple of skills and accomplishments related to the job that helps distinguish you from other candidates.
6. Follow Up
Whenever you meet someone new that you would like to add to your network, make sure to follow up. This can mean sending a LinkedIn request with a personalized message and commenting or interacting with their posts.
Similarly, everyone has different schedules, and sometimes a connection may forget to respond. Don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email or message on social media to catch up and remind them that you’re waiting to hear from them regarding a job or contact.
7. Stay Positive
Job hunting can be a lengthy process, and it’s easy to get discouraged and lose self-esteem when you’ve been rejected. However, it’s essential to stay positive, especially if you’re attending networking events or job fairs. When you have a positive attitude, you’ll come across as approachable and will be more likely to make a favorable first impression. An upbeat attitude can also help when interacting with your network, as people would be more willing to help you if you’re friendly and cheerful.
8. Request Informational Interviews
Informational interviews can be an important networking tool that many people often overlook. It’s not a job interview but a meeting to learn more about an organization’s culture, a particular position or the industry as a whole. The main goal of informational interviews is to meet and form relationships with people in your prospective field.
If you’re straight out of school, switching career paths or looking to reconnect with your career, informational interviews can be beneficial. You can get started by reaching out to a hiring manager and asking for an informational interview. If they agree, make sure you come prepared with questions.
Networking is an essential component in job hunting, and following these tips can help you in the employment process. However, if you require further assistance with other aspects of employment, our Employment Ontario services offers resources and guidance to support your career needs. Our employment centres are located across the Greater Toronto Area, including Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga and North York. Register for our employment services today!