Leverage the Power of Networking for Career Growth & Success
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
It happens all the time.
Someone in your network says, “You know what? You should talk to Mr. Jones at the XYZ Company. They could use someone with your skills.”
But how often are those opportunities missed or delayed to approach Mr. Jones at the XYZ Company, which could just turn out to be an effective lead? The potential of such prospects are frequently put on hold due to one's fears, insecurities, and/or limiting beliefs around networking.
Well, it is time to be proactive and translate those obstacles into fruitful opportunities when it comes to job search and networking.
Remember, when building your network, you’re not just looking for people who are in a position to hire you — you’re looking to make contact with people who know people who might be in a position to hire you. Ask your network of contacts for help in one of the following ways: leads, information, advice, and/or referrals. It also a good idea to ask them if they know anyone who works for “Company X.” Then contact that person on LinkedIn and ask about the company, culture, and hiring practices.
The more people who know you’re looking for a job, the more resources that will be available to help, and the more information you will receive to help further your candidacy.
Many jobseekers try to keep their job search completely confidential and wonder why they are getting such few results.
Change Your Perspective about Networking
Many jobseekers perceive networking as an isolated activity or as a way to merely collect business cards for a future time. We network with people all the time informally and formally. Sometimes though, we take for granted all those possible opportunities to connect with other professionals and make the experience more purposeful and rewarding.
Think outside the box when it comes to networking.
Networking can serve as a great avenue for securing informational interviews, learning something invaluable, transforming conversations into job prospects, and securing volunteering and mentoring opportunities. Networking can increase confidence. After all, we are all in this together striving to build a better future and stronger community through driving a unified mission towards continued success.
You could meet someone at the gym, the library, or at an event or function who tells you he/she happens to be looking for a role in the technical field. Well, you just might know some prospects to help him/her out. That person may know of a company that is recently restructuring or someone seeking a partner for an entrepreneurial venture. You exchange business cards and then the networking process begins.
Yet, the process can be furthered by taking initiative, refining your résumé, following up, and maintaining that relationship. Networking is an ongoing activity. However, it depends on how you choose to navigate the process.
When you leverage a crisp focus with solid research, strategic networking, and compelling brand marketing collateral, you will maximize your career success.
The Best Place to Start Networking: Your Primary Network
There are different ways to network and most of the time it involves accessing your primary network — your trusted family, colleagues, and friends who know and respect you, and whom these people know.
The biggest mistake that many jobseekers make is underestimating their networks. You’re more connected than you realize — maybe only 1-2 connections away from someone who’s willing and able to hire you.
Remember the six degrees of separation principle? It is a small world, in fact. The “tried and true” path of networking is still your #1 marketing strategy for finding your next job. You may know someone in your immediate network that may have a great lead, business idea, or knows of an unadvertised opportunity. So don’t be quick to rule out any prospects, but do your research first.
Whether you choose to network at an event, by joining a professional association, connecting on LinkedIn, or by staying in touch with your old coworkers, you need to be clear about your goals, values, offerings, and how you can help these networks as well to meet their respective goals.
Networking is a two-way street — a way of building alliances to reach common goals.
If you are wondering how to get the process started, keep it simple. Put yourself out there and know your “why” for networking. Then you will be able to figure out “what” to say and “how” to execute the process. Networking is about engaging with like-minded professionals. If you can reengineer your mindset or perception about networking and dispel those common fears / barriers to networking, it could turn out to be a fruitful process.
Improving Your Networking Results
By asking your prospects relevant questions, you can increase your networking results to reach your goals. Utilize your creativity and critical thinking skills here. What is your highest intention and how could that benefit your network contact?
Companies: When networking, share your list of target companies (or a partial list) to enrich the conversation, hone your target list, and make the person you are meeting with feel more comfortable.
Industry: Asking questions to learn more about the industry builds your knowledge, refines your positioning, and expands your target list. Having 2–3 focus industries helps you become more memorable and focuses your networking efforts and the efforts of your network on your behalf.
People: Networking is all about building mutual and respected relationships! Consider, how could you add value for every person you meet and consistently and genuinely connect?
For example: If you are making a career transition, you could say:
“I am planning to make a career move within the next year and am doing my research to make sure it is the right move. (Contact name) thought you could give me advice and assist me in brainstorming ideas for moving forward. Would we be able to discuss this further?"
“With your background in the _________ industry, it would be wonderful to get your perspective on how my experience in _________ could be of benefit to the industry and the companies I've been researching. I’m in the research phase of my search."
Other thoughtful questions to ask your networks could include:
"What do they enjoy most about working for the company?"
“What trends do you see in the industry? What are the biggest challenges?”
“What advice would you be able to offer as I plan to enter this industry?”
“Who else in the industry would you recommend I connect with?”
“What could I do to assist you?”
You can add value and maintain your connections by:
Sending articles or industry intelligence via email or LinkedIn
Making introductions for them to people that might be beneficial
Sharing how their connections or advice have supported your job search
Author Harvey Mackey says: “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”
This means: don’t wait until you’re out of work to develop relationships with your network.
The core success strategy is to actively develop and maintain your network. Networking needs to be the focal point of your strategy rather than a final resource.
Remember to ask for help from your network and offer assistance in return. People want to help you — so let them!
As a Master Resume Writer/Certified Career Transition Coach, I would be happy to provide you with career coaching and support to help you embrace your next career milestone. Contact Creative Horizons Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creative Horizons Communications is a one-stop, award-winning holistic career services firm based in Halton, Ontario. Serving jobseekers of all fields and levels locally and across the globe, we specialize in helping people confidently navigate challenging career transitions.