Networking from the Ground Up – Next Steps

Now that you’ve created a network of 50-100 contacts based on the previous article’s advice, or if you have a small network from 3-5 years working or being in school, what’s next?

The next step is to think about your goals and how you will get there. We’re not forgetting helping others and I’ll talk more about that in my next post, when you have a robust network. If you’re job searching and know the title and industry you’re targeting, you’re ready to move on to this phase. If you don’t, go back and re-read the prior article, have some informational interviews, maybe use the Strengthsfinder to discover your unique set of strengths, and decide on a path you want to pursue.

Ready? Okay, let’s get networking to find yourself a new role. There are two ways to go about this, to apply for jobs through people rather than portals. And the results will be so much better. Really – LinkedIn just posted an article about the “hidden job market” today. According to coach Adele Leah, up to 75-80% of jobs aren’t advertised. Please don’t miss out on these by refusing to network. A little time spent on research and genuine relationship building can truly make a difference.

Here are two ways to get started.

1)     If there’s a job you know you want, or a company where you’d love to work, check out their profile page on LinkedIn. Go to the search field in LinkedIn, search the company’s name, and under “More” select “Companies.” Here’s an example of Google’s company profile.

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You can see I have 2 connections that work at Google. So if I want to work at Google, the first thing I do (after identifying a job description or role where I’d be a great fit) is to reach out to those 2 contacts, to learn more, and to let them know that I’d love to join them at Google. If you don’t immediately see connections, select the link “See all 207,986 employees on LinkedIn,” which will take you to this page.

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You will see that employees with whom you share connections show up first. You can also go to the Connections field at the top and choose to see just 1st or 2nd connections. You can then see who a good person might be to reach out to based on your interest and your connection. Ask your connection if they might introduce you in a group LinkedIn message or email. Now is not the time to be pushy, when asking for a stranger’s time. A short message like, “Hi, Keisha. I am really interested in working at Google in a Marketing role. I’d love to connect with you and learn from you.” is a good way to get a discussion started. If you find someone who’s really active on LinkedIn, all the better. You can follow them, engage with their posts, and request an introduction that way. Truly, with enough time and effort, the sky is the limit. You must put the time in, be polite, and move on when needed. Let’s all remember that we all have a lot going on, and someone who doesn’t respond to your message may have a sick loved one, etc. Be gracious and keep at it.

2)     Another way to find jobs through people rather than portals is to ask for informational interviews from contacts who have worked there before. You can use the search function I detailed above to see who you know who has worked at a specific company. You can also view your contacts’ profiles to see if THEY have worked, even in the past, at a company you’re interested in. If you find a match, reach out to the person and ask if they have 15 minutes for an informational interview, at their convenience. Have your questions ready, including asking about roles, the hierarchy, the culture, opportunities for advancement, the mission, and anything else you want to know. Keep it short and be respectful of the person’s time. After the interview, send a thank you. If you’ll be applying to a role there, state that in your email, include your resume, and ask if there’s anyone they can put you in contact with to share a resume. Person-to-person-to-person. That’s how networking works.

Not interested in working for a specific company? Just want a specific role? That’s fine – search those jobs on LinkedIn, and when you find the one(s) you want to apply to, start at #1 and do your company research. Do you have a contact there? Do you understand the mission? Would an informational interview to understand the company help you during the interview? (Short answer: Yes.)

I hope these networking tips are helpful for anyone job searching right now who wants to stop dropping resumes into a black hole and search out a role that’s truly right for them. If you’re interested in a personalized job search strategy, please get in touch through my calendar.

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