"Networking is the tried and true way to land a job"
You've heard it a lot. We all know networking is crucial, but how exactly do you do it? Follow these 5 steps!
→ Curb Expectations
Leave your agenda at the door — or I suppose we should say in the Zoom waiting room. The very point of all of this is to make genuine connections. While those connections are likely to lead to an opportunity down the line, you must flip your preconceived notions on their head and focus on the interaction itself rather than the outcome.
→ Be Prepared
So, you've curbed your hopes and dreams of landing a job right away via step one. However, that's not to say you shouldn't be prepared. You should be well aware of your intentions and have your networking goals laid out one by one. The key is to keep your intentions at bay while still conveying your desires. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship. Rather than saying "I saw your company is hiring and I want a job," you could say something along the lines of "I love your company and ___ initiative. I have ___ years of experience in this industry and would love to pick your brain while providing insights on ___." The latter option shows your explicit interest while also highlighting what you have to offer the other person.
→ Network Before You Need It
If you go into networking with the intention of learning more and wanting to get involved, you will create organic connections that will help you down the line. It's crucial to view networking as more than outcomes, really focus on relationship building and you will reek more benefits. Rather than trying to build an entire network when you need it, make it a small function of your normal week and gradually create a community of people on your side.
→ Follow Up So You Don't Fall Through
Persistence is key, people are busy! View your follow-ups as reminders rather than nuisances. If you had a meaningful connection with someone, continue to foster the relationship. Send them resources that you find helpful, casually engage in conversation, and try to get coffee chats scheduled. If someone doesn't immediately respond, don't view it as a dead relationship — life ebbs and flows, and people go through busy periods. Make sure you send a thank you after every conversation, you'll get bonus points if you make the message personal and draw parallels back to your conversation.
→ Leverage Your Connections
Prior to embarking on your networking journey, you should start with what you know. Scour through your LinkedIn connections and see if any of them are a good place to start. You can also start searching by your university, second connections, etc. From there, you should act on the common ground and ask to hop on a call. Share pointers, get advice, and always ask for recommendations for other people in their network to speak to.
Follow these 5 steps and you will be guaranteed to have a community of people backing you up throughout your next career transition!