The first rule of networking for a job is counterintuitive: Don’t ask for a job. The idea is that you build relationships, gain information, meet new people and learn industries through networking. And these lead you to new job opportunities. It may feel like a “slow” way to make progress in your job search, but referrals provide some of the best opportunities – so it’s worth your time.
Here are some networking tips to consider in your job search:
Prioritize The Relationship
Don’t network with a sense of desperation in looking for a job. Go in with the mindset that you’re going to meet people who will have similar interests and be fascinating to speak with. You want to build a genuine relationship first. It’s important to value the learning experiences you’ll gain from meeting new people with varied backgrounds and attending different types of events.
Polish Your LinkedIn Profile
What’s the first thing you do when you meet someone new? If you’re like most of us, you check them out online. That’s what your new contact will do after the networking event too. Put a focus on refining your summary – and detailing out pertinent information for each of the roles you’ve had. Make sure your headline and summary reflect your career aspirations instead of your current role.
Stay Active On Social Media
Aside from brushing up your social media profiles, participate in conversations online. Networking isn’t limited to face-to-face events. There are plenty of people who’ve landed jobs on Twitter. You may meet people with similar interests in a Facebook Group or Twitter Chat. Follow companies of interest to you on social media so you put yourself in front of potential employers.
Get Business Cards – And A Holder
It may seem archaic, but it’s nice to have something to hand new people you meet. And you should ask for their cards too. You may not put them in a Rolodex, as was done in the ‘80s, but you’ll use it to reference later when you want to connect online. There are plenty of marketing companies online that will design and print them for you cheap (like Vistaprint, which charges $7.99 for 100 standard business cards).
It’s easy to let something like networking go by the wayside, especially if you currently have a job and are only looking to upgrade. It can feel like an extracurricular activity and certainly takes effort to get yourself out there. Put pressure on yourself to make three new LinkedIn connections a week or attend one live event per month. You’ll be more likely to hold yourself to it if you set specific goals that you can check off once completed.
Check-In – Now And Later
If you met someone in person at a mixer or conference, when you go back home that evening, connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. If you wait much longer, they may not remember you. Always include a message that reminds the connection how you first met. Additionally, don’t just rack up connections – actually talk to them! Every now and again your goal should simply be to reconnect with people you’ve met previously. A perfect opportunity (for you and them) is when they’ve changed job. Send a congratulations note; it’s an easy segue into job search conversation.