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Research shows about 80% of jobs are filled through networking. However, according to LinkedIn’s Executive Chairman, Jeff Weiner, there is a ‘networking gap’. He defined the networking gap as the advantage that some people have over others in accessing opportunities because of their personal connections, based on where they grew up, studied or worked. This indicates that a large pool of skilled professionals is not even considered for their target jobs. Hence, there is a dire need to bridge this gap.
According to Indeed, 47% of employers are planning to increase or maintain their pre-pandemic hiring levels in 2021. This is a good opportunity for job seekers looking to move to a new career this year. In this article, we will have a look at some professional networking trends for job seekers to look out for this year to help them grab the right opportunities at the right time.
1. Network actively
Many of us would agree with the fact that professional networking is valuable but would still feel reluctant to try it ourselves. If you are a job seeker looking for a job in 2021, we would highly recommend you to get actively involved in the process. Networking actively would help you find the right job based on your personal brand and develop long-term relationships.
2. Tell your story, don’t sell it
Storytelling is a powerful tool that allows you to describe a powerful narrative of your job experience. When you interact with a professional with the intention of developing a relationship, you should think of the aspects that would interest them. Narrating your story would establish a genuine connection with them while selling your story and personal brand would only push them away.
An effective way to do this would be to reach out with a personal, unique message. We don’t suggest using random templates found online. Convince the person that you are genuinely interested in speaking with them, with an intention to also help them back in any possible manner. Imagine a scenario where seven job seekers reach out to a recruiter for the same position. Who do you think would the recruiter respond to?
A good way to understand this could be to place yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. Now think of what you’d like to hear in a message. Do you want to listen to an impersonal sales pitch where the sender doesn’t even know the receiver’s name or would you be interested in a broadcasted message sent without context? Think about what you would like to hear from the sender and then use it.
3. Try additional networking platforms
Linkedin and networking usually go hand-in-hand but to increase your chances of success, we strongly suggest looking for additional networking platforms to connect with people. These different online and offline networking platforms will give you a wider pool to choose from. Xing and Invitly are a few examples of platforms similar to LinkedIn. You may also opt for websites Reddit, Quora, GitHub or Medium, which allow you to connect with professionals from your target industries and get involved in discussions with them. You may also want to take advantage of offline events that you attend through your personal or professional network. Attending alumni events, conferences, and events by social clubs would allow you to network with key professionals, increasing your access to new opportunities.
Your LinkedIn profile represents your personal brand and identity. This helps professionals identify your expertise and experience, allowing them to decide if they want to build a relationship further. Thus, optimizing your LinkedIn profile increases your chances of getting a positive outcome from your networking process.
As most of the hiring process has moved online, your online presence will influence your target employer’s hiring decision. Your LinkedIn profile will help you set yourself apart from your competitors. We recommend developing a strong SEO-friendly LinkedIn profile to help your target employers find you through relevant keywords.
5. Engage with the right people
As mentioned above, your LinkedIn presence is an essential part of your job search. While the presentation of your profile is vital, using it the right way is more crucial. As a job seeker, identify the people who can aid you in your job search. These could be key professionals from your target employers, recruiters from your desired industry, and thought leaders. Keeping in touch with them and engaging with their content will create a good impression on them, opening you to many new opportunities.
Tip: Do not get disheartened if most of the professionals you reach out to do not respond. The few who get back to you would be enough to help you and guide you through this journey. Keep trying and use your energy and time on the right people.
6. Reciprocate kindness
If you feel you are not in a position to help anyone else, we would want you to reconsider this thought. A quality network gives you immense power to enable someone to help them land their dream role. While you may not help get them a job, a single like on someone’s post introducing them to your network, connecting them to someone relevant from your network or even guiding them through your experience could add a great deal of value to their job search. As it is popularly said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
7. Consult with experts
Networking is strategic, effort-intensive, and time-consuming. If you are someone who has not networked actively in the past and does not know where to begin, consulting would be a great way out. In line with evolving needs, career experts provide services to network efficiently and effectively online and offline. We strongly suggest reaching out to the right people to start your networking journey.
The practice of professional networking has been evolving ever since. It allows you to create a good network in the long run and introduces you to new opportunities. Apart from the obvious purpose of aiding your job search, the network you have established would help you gain new insights and enhance your personal brand, giving you a great opportunity to grow your professional career. Thus, if you are looking for a job in 2021, networking effectively would empower you to gain a competitive edge.