Networking from the Ground Up

As a resume writer I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can make the job search and hiring process more equitable – and one area that is ripe for change is networking. But how do we make networking more accessible and equitable for people who aren’t born with a network? LinkedIn is a huge part of the answer. This week I’m going to provide a series of posts about “how to network from ground up” – so that anyone with a WiFi signal, even if they don’t know anyone (and I’ve worked with some refugee clients for whom that is true) can get started on the way to their dream role.

Why network? Do you hate the term? Too bad, because it works. An older article from HBR states: “…in today’s world, networking is a necessity. A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.” Article But what is a network, really? It’s just people who share any common interests, people you’ve worked with before, people you admire, people who admire you, and people who are willing to help you. Sounds good, right?

“I don’t have a network.” Is this you? Have you never worked? Been to school? Don’t have a family network? You can still create a network though it will be difficult and time consuming – the work will be worth it. Here are some steps to get you started IN THE RIGHT WAY. I’m not talking about building a LinkedIn following for no purpose other than to have a following. This is a guide to networking to increase valuable contacts and create relationships that are of mutual benefit.

1)     Create a LinkedIn profile that details your unique strengths, expertise, and your interests. There are MANY posts on how to do this, but the most critical parts are:

a.      A nice headshot photo – profiles with photos get 14x more views.

b.      A clear and succinct headline that details what you do, what your strengths are, or what you’re interested in: “Marketing Manager | Digital Marketing | Advertising | Account Management | CRM | Client Solutions” etc.

c.      About Section – Here is where you want to put your personality in. Use first person and talk about your professional self, your goals, your desired roles, and what makes you a great employee.

d.      Professional Experience – detail any role or job you’ve had and what you did in that role. How were you successful? What were your duties? What were your accomplishments?

e.      Skills – list skills that you’ve acquired throughout your life.

2)     Engage. If there is truly not one person you can think of to connect with on LinkedIn (and you can connect with me!) start following influencers, companies, and groups that interest you.

a.      Search a term, like “SEO” or “Supply Chain” or “Marketing” and see what you come up with in groups, companies, people, etc. Read the comments, engage with the poster and commenters – in a nice, professional way – follow people and companies – and then reach out to connect with people with similar interests and goals. Tell them you are asking to connect to LEARN more, because you are. LinkedIn is not only a site for networking, it’s a site for learning.

b.      Share content. You don’t have to create long posts (like this one) but you can share articles about your industry or desired industry that you think are interesting – always with a comment or question to invite dialogue (don’t just drop articles with no comment, it’s boring.) Use three hashtags to have others searching those same terms see your post as well.

c.      Follow hashtags. You can see a lot of content this way and interact with it. Instructions are here: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/92930/use-hashtags-and-follow-topics-on-linkedin?lang=en

d.      Join Groups. Groups don’t show up in your feed, so set a time on your calendar every week to visit your groups for 30 minutes (total) and engage with posts. See someone interesting posting content? Ask to connect.

Does this seem doable? Take it step by step – and make sure what you do has value. Ask interesting questions, celebrate others’ accomplishments, and join the conversation. I promise you will see the benefit.

Stay tuned for the next post, the next steps to networking when you have 50-100 contacts or so. Questions? Comments? I’m always open to feedback – let me know below. 

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