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It is challenging for a company to pick the right candidate from a pool of thousands of applicants during the hiring process. Some familiarity with an individual, either through a reference or a personal connection instills confidence in the employer’s mind. Professional networking may seem tedious and nerve-racking at first, but it is proven to be much more effective than scouring through online job postings. It is the art of building and maintaining meaningful relationships with professionals in your field and other related industries to advance your career.
It is useful for individuals at all stages of their careers. In today’s highly competitive job market, the importance of having a robust network only stands to grow. According to the Washington Post, the job market is rapidly growing with U.S. companies posting a record 11.5 million job vacancies in March 2022. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have stayed in a cocoon, interacting primarily with our close contacts only. However, to leverage networking in your job search, it is essential to reactivate dormant ties, reach out to new people, and build meaningful connections. In this article, we will explore some useful career networking trends that can help you land your dream role.
1) Have a clear understanding of your networking goals
Before putting your best foot forward in the networking world, it is essential to be clear on what you are seeking with networking. Hence, before you start reaching out to people, list down your objectives. For instance, as a job seeker, your goal is to find your next role through networking. This means any referrals or job leads could speed up your job search. Hence, reaching out to the people associated with your employers of choice, such as current or former employees can benefit your job search. As a job seeker, you should feel confident answering the following questions:
- What kind of roles are you looking for?
- What motivates you to apply for the particular job?
- Who are some of your top employers of choice?
If any of the above questions intimidate you, we suggest reflecting on your skills, experiences, and passion to answer the above questions. If you need an extra push, reach out to an expert who can guide you in making an informed career choice.
2) Prepare a killer elevator pitch
The opportunity to network begins the moment you step outside your door. Or, in today’s world, the second you go online. Thus, it’s crucial to have a strong elevator pitch up your sleeve no matter where you are. You never know when a casual conversation with an acquaintance could lead to your next employment.
In about 60 seconds, you should be able to articulate a compelling narrative of what you have done, what you are doing, and what you want to do. Don’t just aim to sell yourself aimlessly, focus on your capabilities, expertise, and experiences, intriguing your listener. If you nail your pitch, it will inspire the other person to continue the conversation or reach out to you in the future.
However, your well-crafted pitch may come unstuck if you don’t manage your personal brand online. An interested employer is likely to look you up after an engaging conversation. If they don’t like what they find, all your efforts will be in vain. So, make sure your digital footprint leaves a good impression on the viewer.
3) Leverage your LinkedIn
The most powerful and popular professional networking platform in the virtual realm is unquestionably LinkedIn. According to research, six individuals are hired through LinkedIn every minute. LinkedIn provides an effective platform for users to showcase their education, strengths, and accomplishments. When crafted strategically, your LinkedIn profile allows you to distinguish yourself from your peers, build solid first impressions, and attract prospective employers. Your profile is the centerpiece of your digital persona. Thus, we strongly recommend you put your best efforts into drafting a compelling LinkedIn profile aligned with SEO best practices. It will help you attract ideal employers and connections directly to your inbox.
4) Personalize your approach
Remember, when you reach out to a prospective employer in person or via email or LinkedIn, using random generic networking templates taken from the internet won’t usually do the trick. Besides demonstrating your interest in the desired job role, you need to highlight your value proposition. Do thorough research on the target company, understand its vision, and read about its upcoming strategies and objectives. Link the company’s values to your own and use your past achievements, experiences, and skills to highlight how you can add value to the company’s upcoming projects.
5) Networking is a two-way street
Networking is as much about providing as it is about taking. An authentic relationship can only be nurtured when both parties add value to each other. As a job seeker, the idea of approaching industry professionals who boast years of experience may be scary. However, you have more to offer than you realize. For example, you may share an interesting research paper or insightful article with people you think would find it helpful. They will appreciate your thoughtful gesture and it could lead to a productive conversation. Even simple acts, such as giving recognition or expressing gratitude go a long way. Lastly, if you think two people have shared interests, make an effort to introduce them. Remember, networking isn’t just about you!
6) Put yourself out there
As we begin to emerge from the restraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a great time to return to in-person or offline networking activities like networking events, job fairs, and alumni meets. As social beings, it is easier to dive into fruitful conversations when we engage with people face-to-face. Instead of showing up unprepared, it is important to do your homework. Before attending any event, keep in mind the following points:
- Check if the event specifies a dress code. If not, keep your attire simple, professional, and appropriate.
- Practice your elevator pitch a few times to feel confident.
- If you’d like to reach out to some specific individuals at the event, do in-depth research and learn more about their background, and find shared interests. It’ll help you engage in more authentic conversations with them.
- It’s wise to bring an updated power-packed resume, but you don’t need to give it around unless a connection asks for it. Resumes are one of the most important professional tools, make sure you nail yours.
7) Reach out to an expert
Some individuals have a natural flair for networking, mainly extroverts who love to talk and thrive in social situations. For others, networking may feel awkward, daunting, and even phony. But in today’s modern world, networking is imperative for your job search. If you have struggled with networking in the past or have no idea where to begin, you will benefit from reaching out to career experts. Speaking to an expert can help overcome your aversion and equip you with the right strategies and tools to network effectively, both online and offline.
If you are finding a job in 2022, professional networking should be a vital part of your job search process. A powerful network will not only help you identify suitable job opportunities but will also aid your career progression in the long run. With the abovementioned strategies, you will be more confident and effective at cultivating trustworthy relationships.