Networking for your next career opportunity

It’s not what you know, but who you know”. We’ve all heard it and when it comes to looking for a new job it’s somewhat true. Although it may not land you a job outright (and it shouldn’t) having connections undoubtedly gives you a foot in the door and a chance to put yourself forward when the opportunity presents itself.”

So how do you become ‘connected’? 

Networking. Yes, that scary word that often feels daunting enough when you’re doing it on behalf of your employer, but to actually do it on behalf of yourself, gulp! But here’s the thing – networking isn’t scary, daunting, uncomfortable, intimidating, awkward and every other terrifying word you think it might be. You already do it, every day.

Believe it or not you already have a network – in friends, family, neighbours, colleagues past and present, other parents in the school yard and many others who you regularly come into contact with. Now that you’re ready and searching for your next role, it’s time to let them know. You never know their employer may be currently recruiting, they may have a partner/friend who is looking to expand their business, they may even come across a job advert and immediately think of you. But unless you tell them that you are actively job hunting they are not going to know that the information is relevant to you.

So now it’s time to grow your network and get to know more people.

There are tons of networking groups out there. A good place to start is to find those in the geographical location of where you want to work, or those that focus on the particular industry of which you want to work in. If you are a member of a professional organisation then it’s likely that they will also hold their own regular events for their members, a fantastic way to meet like-minded people in your relevant field.

Eventbrite is a great site for searching for events, many of which are free to attend or have a low ticket price. There will be others that have a larger price tag attached to them and in this instance it’s up to you to consider the potential return on investment.

Try focussing your efforts and research your ideal employer. Where do you really want to work? Create a list and target them. Follow them (in a non-stalker way!) What are they doing on social media, have they posted about any events they are attending or exhibiting at? If so, can you get a ticket?

Networking is about creating and nurturing relationships and it’s growing ever more essential when it comes to job searching. Research tells us that professional networking leads to more job opportunities and according to LinkedIn 70% of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection.

So now you know where to network, let’s talk about how you network.

You walk into a room, everyone is talking in pairs or small groups, you make awkward eye contact and then what… just say hello! The best way to start or join a conversation is by simply saying hello. You can be absolutely sure that you will get an acknowledgement back and be invited into the conversation.

Remember that networking is give and take. Ask questions, give advice, share information and your own experiences and opinions. Focus on getting to know the person you’re talking to and what you have in common. How can you help them? 

Build the relationship before you ask for their help. And remember to always be yourself, be genuine, be authentic and be honest. And face to face events aren’t the only way to grow your network. With many professionals and organisations using social media networks such as LinkedIn, it’s a great tool to help you research, grow and keep in touch with your connections. Connect with individuals you’ve met at events and continue the conversation. Join groups and give your opinion on hot discussions. Look at which companies are currently hiring and who you might know that works there.

My ultimate tip is to keep a list, create your own little CRM. Write down who is in your job hunting network and when you last caught up with them. Prioritize your list and make time to reconnect and keep in touch with them. Keep notes on the last conversation you had with them, what are they up to, what are their plans, who have they referred you to, etc.

Please don’t forget to be grateful. Remember to say thanks when it’s warranted. Show your connections that you appreciate them and their help. And reciprocate.

And finally, always, always, remember that relationships often come full circle, you never know when you’ll bump into a connection from the past, so maintain a professional and polite approach with everyone you come into contact with and you’re sure to leave a good impression.

For further help and guidance contact our Candidate Support Team via email.

Want to hear more?

Listen to our associated podcast, Networking for your next career opportunity

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Kirsty Lambert

Kirsty Lambert

Partnership Manager