Networking: The action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.
If you are looking for a job, it is highly likely that someone along the way has advised you to network. Maybe you knew exactly what they were talking about and jumped right in.
But, if you’re like most people, you probably weren’t sure what networking is, much less how to do it. If that describes you, keep reading…
Let’s start with why it’s important.
Networking helps you discover and access the hidden job market. In the past, these hidden job openings represented jobs that were never advertised, which could account for up to 80% of vacancies. Fast forward to the age of technology and internet-based job boards, and that statistic has decreased. However, the hidden job market still exists and now also describes the power of getting to the hiring manager before the job is posted or as soon as possible afterwards. It’s about making a connection with the hiring manager first through networking.
Getting a jump start in communicating with employers before the crowd arrives is critical.
People tend to be good at the usual job search tactics, but in order to be truly successful, you have to dig beneath the surface and establish relationships.
Think about it. People primarily do business with people they know.
It’s not that hard – you know more people than you think. Start by making a list of your network -- the people you know, your family, friends, and colleagues.
Once you have your list, be vocal about your search. Don’t keep your job search a secret.
All the connections in the world won’t help if no one knows you’re looking.
While it is understandable if you don’t want your current employer to know you are looking, you can still tell trusted people in your network. It helps to be very specific about what you are looking for, and it’s even more helpful if you have targeted specific companies or industries.
There are a lot of different ways to network, but you don’t have to use them all. Find one that works for your personality and career goals. You could:
Attend a networking event or virtual meet up,
Join a professional association,
Arrange a one-on-one meeting for coffee,
Set up a profile on LinkedIn (Need help with LinkedIn? Check out this article and start setting up that profile.), or
Ask for an informational interview. This is an informal conversation, not a job interview. Use an informational interview to ask for career advice: How did this person end up in their current position? Do they know anyone else you can reach out to and add to your network? If the company they work for is on your list, let them know of your interest in the company and ask about company culture, hiring practices and more.
Most importantly, as you establish your network, remember this is a give and take relationship.
Networking isn’t about being pushy, self-serving or aggressively promoting yourself. It’s about building relationships, making connections, and sharing information. Start building your network now, and you'll reap the benefits well into the future.
Looking for one more person to add to your network? A career coach is a great person to have in your corner.
Set up a virtual meeting with one of our certified Career Coaches through the Book a Learning Coach form or by calling 803-929-3400. After you submit, we will contact you to set an appointment. Our team provides help with interviewing skills, your résumé, interest/skills assessments, and more. Follow Richland Library on LinkedIn for career development tips and tricks.