Are you looking to expand your professional network in 2023? Studies show that most jobs are found through networking. That means if you’re job searching this year, tapping into your network is key. Whether you’re looking for a new job or wanting to make new contacts in your field (or both), this article will walk you through how to network like a pro!
Have a plan
Let me start by saying that networking is an acquired skill. What do I mean by that? It takes practice and preparation. It can be tempting to send a quick DM or email to a contact on LinkedIn if you see a job opening. However, this approach rarely works. Why? Because your contact likely gets a LOT of similar messages from candidates looking to break into the company or field. Especially if they work in HR or management.
My recommendation is to start small. For example, start with someone in a role that’s similar to the one you are targeting. For instance, if you want to land a role as a market research analyst, search on LinkedIn for market research analysts working at companies that you want to work for.
- First, send a connection request. Next, send them a short message saying you’re interested in learning more about their role and ask if they would be willing to chat with you via email, phone, or video. This is an called informational interview.
- Next, if they are willing to talk to you, great! Set up a time and date.
- Now, here comes the preparation piece. Research the company they work for. What about it interests you (think mission, values, goals)?
- Lastly, make a list of questions you want to ask, and keep it all about your contact.
Don’t be selfish
I cannot stress this point enough.
I’ll give you an example. There’s a job that you want. You find a recruiter on LinkedIn who is working at the company you are targeting. Hastily, you send a message that sounds something like “Hey, I noticed there’s an opening at your company. I’d be a great fit. I attached my resume. Thanks so much!”
There’s a few issues with this approach.
For starters, it’s all about you.
Sure, I get it. You want a job. So why not just come out and ask? Why beat around the bush? It’s pretty simple: because you are going to annoy your contact. If your goal is to piss off the recruiter and get on the “black list,” this approach will definitely work!
Think about it from the recruiter’s perspective. They get emails just like yours all.the.time. Desperate job seekers asking for a favor. Forgetting that the person you are contacting is also a human being. You’ve got to set yourself apart. Don’t be desperate (even if you feel desperate). Don’t be rude.
A different tactic might be to start following the recruiter on LinkedIn or Twitter, for example. Write a thoughtful response to a post or article they’ve shared. Be subtle in your approach. Then refer back to my first point in this article: have a plan!
Take no for an answer
A common theme I’m hearing from hiring managers and recruiters on career forums is that candidates keep “bugging them.” I recently read a post from a recruiter who had politely told a candidate that there were no openings. The candidate proceeded to send them emails on a weekly basis.
Now, let me start by saying there is a bit of a grey area when it comes to being too aggressive with your networking approach. Is it too much to send a check-in email every few months or so if you’ve got a contact at a company? Absolutely not. But if you are emailing or calling your contact daily or weekly you could be quickly moving toward harassment territory.
You will get a lot of people telling you no or just not responding to your requests to connect on social media. It’s okay to feel frustrated. Getting ignored or told no sucks. But you’ve got to move on and continue to send targeted and thoughtful connection requests. Because there will be other people who say yes. Those are the folks you want to focus on!
Networking is a skill. For some people it comes more naturally. For others it does not. There is no shame either way! Practice makes perfect. Start by contacting people you already know like family and friends. Do some informational interviewing with your close contacts first to get your feet wet. Once you feel more comfortable, start reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn.
Building and learning to successfully leverage your network takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the small successes along the way, like having the courage to reach out to a new contact. You got this!