It is well known that many jobs are actually never advertised.
They are filled because the hiring manager knows someone, hears about someone, or is introduced to someone through their personal network.
Sarai’s biography can be found at the end of the article.
Shhh…I have a huge secret that I want to share with you.
Most jobs, especially dream jobs, are never actually ever posted; they are filled through networking. So what is networking and how do you actually network your way to a new job?
Keep reading! I’ve listed five of the best tips for networking your way to a new job below.
What networking is…and is not…
Let’s quickly recap what networking is and why it is such a vital career development skill.
Networking is not simply landing a job just because you know someone; rather it’s using those connections within your network to learn about job opportunities.
Do not assume that just because you know someone with a great connection, that you will land a job with them. Rather, look at your network as a launching point to getting your foot in the door for your next job.
5 Ways to Network Your Way to a New Job
1. Use your current network
So many of us shy away from networking to land a job simply because we don’t think we have any sort of a network to start with. Everyone has a much larger network that than ever realized.
In fact, you most likely have some dream job arsenal already in your current network.
So where is your network?
The network you didn’t realize you had:
- Teachers / Alumni Associations;
- Work relations;
- LinkedIn/social media;
- Community Organizations;
- Informal networking (day to day interactions with complete strangers).
All of the groups listed above play a part in your current network. If you have lost connections with friends or former colleagues it may be time to reconnect.
Keeping your connections current and up-to-date plays a huge factor in finding your next job opportunity.
A word of advice when networking, remember that it’s not just about you. Networking is a give and take process.
By helping others achieve their objectives, you’ll find that they will be more inclined to help you achieve yours.
2. Communicate with your network
A key factor to networking is communication.
If you’re not talking with your network, you’re missing out on possibly job opportunities. Keeping in touch with your vast network may sound daunting, but it’s a lot less time consuming and overwhelming than you might think.
When looking for a new job, you will need to communicate your need to your network.
This is all part of networking. In most cases you won’t simply be handed a new job by your network. When looking for a job you need to communicate your need/interest for a new job.
The best way to do this is to communicate with your network.
Emails are a great and quick way to keep up-to-date with your network. It allows both parties the opportunity to respond at a time when is most convenient for them.
LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the rest. These are all great forms of social media where you can connect or reconnect with your network.
Text / phone calls
Stay in touch with current and former connections through quick texts or phone calls. A phone call is the quickest and most efficient form of communication.
Informal lunch / dinner
Lunch and dinner conversations are some of the best times to communicate with your network. Lunch and dinner sessions provide a laid back environment for longer and more in depth conversations face-to-face.
Events / parties
Events and parties are a great way to network and communicate with your network. A work party helps you to network with not only your colleagues and your boss, but also your bosses boss and so forth.
3. Follow up with your network
Communicating your need/interest for a new job within your network is crucial, but so is following up with your network.
A lot of the times, connections within your network will say that they haven’t heard of any job openings but will keep you in mind if anything should come up.
After a few months however, your connections may have forgotten their former promises. This is why following up with your network on a regular basis is such a key factor in networking effectively.
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However, there are some fine lines you will want to avoid when following up with your network to avoid coming across as a nag. Hounding your network connections day in and day out will land you on the ‘do not answer’ phone list.
So how do you follow up with your network without hounding?
Professional ways to follow up with your network
Build upon your network connection
A great way to follow-up on a job opportunity and stay connected with your networking connections, is to build upon those current relationships.
If you have expressed a job interest with a former colleague who may have a connection, it’s a good idea to consistently keep lunch appointments or other engagements to build upon your relationship.
Building your current network connection relationships is a great way to follow up without being overbearing.
Send a thank-you note
In the case of a more formal network connection, a simple thank-you card is a great and professional way to follow up.
A thank you card shows tact, proper etiquette, and is also a great way to remind your network connection of your current job interest.
Help your connection achieve their objective
As previously mentioned, networking is not a one-way street. It’s very much so a give and take process. If you’re helping your network connections achieve their objectives, it will make them more likely to help you achieve your objectives as well. This is a great way to constantly follow-up with your connection without any nagging involved.
4. Build your network
While communicating and following up with your current network, it’s also good practice to build upon your current network. The larger your network, the larger your possibilities are of landing your next job.
How to build your network?
Make friends with friends of friends.
That’s a mind game isn’t it! You can never have too many friends in my opinion. Make connections with friends of friends and so on to really help build upon your current network.
Take job-specific training courses / internships
When you are looking for a job, it’s critical that you never sit idle in your skills or connections.
This is especially true if you are looking for a job in a new field. A great way to build your network in your desired field is to take job-specific training courses or apply for an internship in your field of choice.
By doing so, you will make countless connections in your desired field that will help you to network your next job.
Job fairs are a great way to build professional connections within your network. Recruiters at job fairs are always great connections to have, as they can recommend you first hand to their employers. See our Career Fair Tips.
Join clubs / groups
Get involved in your community by joining a club or group. You will be amazed at the connections and associates you will be able to add to your current network.
5. Maintain your network
While some individuals may find a new position quickly through networking, others may take a little more time.
Whichever the case may be, it’s good practice to maintain your current network at all times.
Even if you land your dream job, you still want to maintain connections with your network as never know when another dream job may come along!
Professional ways to maintain your network connections
Always be gracious and courteous to those within your network. Though a job opportunity through one connection may not work out, it is extremely important to always be gracious in everyone’s help towards achieving your objective.
Deepen your relationships within your network. It never hurts to be on a first name basis with your boss or colleague. Always look for ways to build upon current relationships, without crossing boundaries.
Social media, email, phone calls, and lunch appointments are great ways to keep connected and stat up-to-date with your current network.
Networking your way to your next job takes time and effort, but the payout in the end is well worth it. Nowadays the old resume approach has little effect on landing you your next job.
Networking is the secret key to job success – use the five tips above to help network your way to your next job.