Networking: Why it's so important & How to do it well

To find a job now or switch jobs later on, networking is the name of the game. The application letter and resume are no longer the keys to getting selected. It’s your ability to ‘network’. So what does it mean, and how do you do that?

What it is.

Networking is about using connections that people have, or create. And that you build on to establish a relationship with people that matter to you.

It’s like a book review

Some of it is similar to when you want to watch a TV show or buy a book. You look up the ratings and reviews of people. You trust the reviews of people who share your interests more than the company selling the product. It makes it more personal. Networking is like that. It is making things personal.

Next to that, networking is about finding mutual benefits by connecting. You may want to work for a specific company, because they offer a job or environment, or a reputation that is really appealing to you. But the recruiter of that company wants to make sure they pull in new people that are great additions in terms of skills, competencies.

And they want to recruit new people who fit very well with the culture and ambitions of the organization. If you possess most of those competencies, and culture fit really well, you could be a very interesting asset to them.

You’ve already started.

Networking takes time and it is something you would do on an ongoing base. The fun part is that you have already done quite a bit of networking before you’ve started reading this blog.

You’ve met class mates, colleagues and people at events or cafe’s you’ve exchanged contact details with. And your social media accounts most likely contain many contacts you have sporadic contact with. That’s a start.

Make it a habit to keep your network active from now on. There will be times you need that one person you’ve met years ago. For they happen to work at the company you would love going to, or their Linkedin profile shows that they know someone who works there.

Networking is key, also today. Read this blog by ADPro “Why Networking Is More Important Than Ever—and How to Do It Virtually” for a reminder of its importance and how it fits in 2021.

Do’s and don’ts

So, let’s go back to you looking for a job. Where to start?

Start with looking at the people you know. What does their Facebook profile, Twitter account and postings, Google Plus say about their connections with the industry or company you would like to work? Linkedin is much more informative. If you don’t have it yet, open a Linkedin account.

Take time to browse through the backgrounds of people you are connected with. List all names and contact details of people that might be interesting to connect with. And take time to do this right.

Make your Linkedin profile look right.

It is critical your Linkedin profile looks really good. Before you start approaching people via any social media, fix it. That’s where most people will look at for reference. Check this excellent blog to make the right Linkedin profile. When you have done that, bring your other social media accounts in line with it. Stick to the style of the respective social media, but make sure the content is consistent across the different social media. So, don’t take the more serious tone of Linkedin when you update your Facebook profile. It surely can be a bit more informal there, but make sure the content is consistent.

How to approach them.

Best is to call people. If that won’t work, email them or send them a direct mail from the social media you use.

When you need the person you are already connected with directly, great. If not, ask that person if they would be willing to introduce you to a contact they have. For people won’t quickly turn you down on a request for help.

Just calling people and asking them for a job won’t work. It might even work against you. Coming across as too pushy could put people off. Networking is about building a connection that works for both sides.

Great opening lines.

A great way to connect with people is to ask them if they would be happy to review your resume. So, if it is a person you already know, it is an easy way to re-activate the connection. If it is a person you are referred to, always name the person who referred you.

The good thing about asking them to review your resume, it is a somewhat innocent way to get them to look at your resume. So they can see what experience you gathered, what skills and competencies you possess. It also shows your appreciation of their opinion, their professionalism.

Another good opening would be to ask the person you know if they are happy to talk about the company they are working with. Even if they happen to be with a competitor of the company you would like to apply for a job, this could get you valuable information about the industry. When you are talking with them you could ask also if they have any advice how to approach the company. And you could ask them if they know anyone working there they might introduce you to.

Remember, that even if you ask someone you know to help you get introduced, it is important to have a few key words ready. These are keywords about your competencies, the things you are good at, so they can mention these when informing the other person. In Findmino’s blog Effective resumes today find some further advice on how to pick the right words.

Intrigue them.

People who have the biggest impact in their networking call are the ones that know to intrigue the other side. Therefor ask yourself what frustrates yourself most being a customer of the company or industry you are interested in. What would be your personal best solution to address this? Placing this idea in your Linkedin profile, and mentioning it in your call could have a tremendous impact. And it shows that you have something on offer that others don’t.

Prepare yourself well.

A good preparation for a call is to have your skills and competencies ready, and a few stories or examples you can tell to demonstrate them. The stories demonstrate who you are, what impact you have made in other situations. This could be work related. It could also be things you did at your sports club, a school musical, a sorority. get these stories ready to bring in at the eight moment in the call. That’s when you sense there is a real interest from the person you are talking to.

And describe in your own words why you are interested, or eager, to join their industry, their organization. Browse the web for latest trends in that industry. What are trends, positive and negative. What are the most innovative organisations doing. What role does this organization choose to play?

Find blogs or news articles about the company, or publications they have posted themselves. By referring to them in the conversation it shows your interest in the industry and company.

Balance talking with asking.

Your call will need to be focused and effective. The other person most likely won’t have a lot of time. Your preparation is crucial. During the call have a few questions at hand to ask the other person. Show interest in their company, culture and the way they got the job. Ask them what they like most, least.

And balance the asking with sharing your key things ‘on offer’. This is your golden opportunity to share what you are good at, and what will make you a good fit with them.

Public figures who have had some media training are excellent in getting their points across, independent from the questions asked by the interviewer. Think like that public figure, but show personal interest at the same time.

Grow your network again

Any person you connect with will have hundreds of people they know. So, ask them if they can recommend any useful contacts, or professional organizations so you can learn more.

And sense if the conversation lends itself to -at the end- check if they happen to have any vacancies or if they expect any vacancies soon.

Follow up and stay in touch.

Always thank the person you talked to. Be specific. Make reference to the personal connection, how you appreciated talking with them. Offer any help if you can. Make notes of the conversation and keep them at a clever place, like the notes section of your address book.

When you read a blog or publication relevant to the conversation you have had, send the person a brief message and a link to the article. For it is a great way to stay connected, keep the connection active.

Be patient.

Networking is a long term thing. You may be lucky and get a quick response, but remember that it is about seeding for future success.

Useful resources

This Forbes blog summaries the key aspects of good networking.

6 Wrong Ways to Network Online and How to Do it Right is useful read to avoid the most common pitfalls.

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