Part of the Career Collective series. Please see end of this post.
You’ve heard it before, “Network in order to optimize your job search.” But, what do you do when you are not a social butterfly? It is not as difficult as it seems. Once you get your ‘feet wet’ it can be fun.
First, the Objective:
The idea is to meet/reconnect with as many people you can in your desired industry, make a connection, gain their trust, cultivate the relationship, and earn a good job lead.
Second, the Reasoning:
There are many job seekers vying for the same job ad and so you are at the mercy of the one doing the searching. However, networking places you in a position of power in which you can create opportunities. By connecting with others, you will gain access to those on the ‘inside’ or those close to the ones on the ‘inside’ and you will be able to learn of opportunities not yet advertised. Perhaps, you will learn of a certain company’s need to solve a problem and you might just be the one with a solution.
Networking can be compared to researching (just a bit more fun); you are out there in the world or in cyberspace, gathering information, filtering through leads, and identifying the what, who, and where—so you present an unsolicited proposal for your employment.
Third, the Strategy:
- Be aggressive but polite. Employ all strategies available to you (in person, online). You can network online. In person, you can join associations, go to industry relevant events. Oh, and volunteer.Yes!
- Value every contact whether they provide you a job lead or not. Engage, listen, and help them. Keep track of whom you have met, where you have met them, and keep notes on what most impressed you about them. Follow up and thank everyone that attempts to help you.
- Be prepared. Set up all your online social profiles before you set out to network. Carry networking cards. Networking cards are just that, business-size cards that include your contact information and on the back this card will include your ‘elevator’ pitch, (UVP) unique value proposition, or a snippet of your resume.
Last, Overcoming Fear:
Dreading to network is common because you are navigating outside of your comfort zone but also because you are networking with an end-result in mind…well, don’t! Huh? Isn’t the whole point to gain a lead? Yes, it is true that you are networking in hopes to gain a lead but that should never be your only focus.
Here are a few things you should focus on while you network, which will help calm your anxiety and help you enjoy the process a bit more.
- Meet and Help Others. Perhaps you are in a better position than you realize. Offer your industry knowledge and assistance. This is an excellent way to ‘break the ice,’ feel good about yourself, and enjoy the process as opposed to frantically zero in on an end result. People will sense your frustration and your ‘ulterior’ motives, which will not help you; plus, I know it is not your intention to use others.
- Learn. When you think you know everything, well you just never know enough! This is the time to learn from others, share what you are learning, and seek to learn more.
- Have a good time with old friends. Reconnect with those you lost touch with since you have been working so much. Not only will you raise your feel-good energy and fuel your positive thinking but you will rebuild those connections that add happiness to your life.
If you employ the above steps, even if it makes you uncomfortable, you will soon be comfortable in your new zone—guaranteed! Networking means sharing…and sharing often encourages others to share with you.
Rosa Elizabeth Vargas
Master Resume Writer
Quadruple Certified Resume Writer