In past generations people went to work for a company, stayed a lifetime and enjoyed job security.
Today, you are responsible for your own job security. No matter what your position, you cannot assume that your job is safe, or that the company is stable (including government jobs). So you need to prepare, even when you are employed.
Since many experts agree that more than 70% of jobs are found and filled through networking – creating and maintaining a network will be vital, so you can quickly find new employment, or new opportunities. (The reason why networking works, is because a typical employer prefers to hire someone that is known through a network, or someone that comes recommended by a friend or colleague. Job boards are used as the last resort, not first resort by employers).
But what happens, if you don’t have a long-standing and comprehensive network and you find yourself looking or needing a new job fast?
Well, there are tactics that you can use today, in which you can quickly network your way to a job.
Step One – Prepare yourself for networking
Get the right mindset
In order to network your way into a job, you need to adopt a tough, but positive mindset. Not everyone you talk to is going to be interested in you, in fact most people you talk to, won’t be remotely interested in you. But by staying positive, you will overcome any setbacks, and by being genuine you will establish an effective network of contacts, that might be able to assist you in the future.
Revamp your resume
Your resume is the document that will create interest amongst those in your network. If a person from a company is networking, they will have fancy business cards, an effective website, plus a whole lot of marketing materials that tell people in the network exactly what they do. As a job seeker networking your way into a job – you have your resume.
A resume if well written, will generate genuine interest and secure an interview. A lousy resume will be thrown in the trash bin.
Find out everything there is to know about the companies and individuals you are pursuing. Use this research to compile a list of companies and individuals you could approach.
Compile a list of contacts you already have
The next step is to compile a list of contacts that you already have, be it contacts within the industry, former co-workers, friends and associates, mentors, or even suppliers and vendors within the industry.
Start building your social media networks
Both LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to quickly establish a network of contacts. Both mediums allow you to build an effective network relatively quickly.
Step Two – Ask for contacts, not a job
When you have a list of companies and individuals to approach, don’t just pass your resume out to everyone, hoping that it will generate interviews. It won’t!
The next step is to use the list you have compiled and ask and gather information from the people on the list, so you can eventually ascertain who is hiring, or companies that are looking out for new people. Once you have a proper contact, or lead, – then pass on your resume (not before).
When striking up a conversation, let them know that you are looking for a job (don’t ask for a job and make sure there is no expectations, obligations or pressure). Then specifically ask them whether they know anyone who would be a good contact in relation to this.
For example: “I’m looking for a finance accounting position in Brisbane. Do you know anyone that would be good for me to contact?”
If they provide you with an effective contact, or lead, follow up on this straight away!
Step Three – Approach the contact with confidence
Now you have a list of genuine leads, in step 3 it is important to maximise your contact with the lead.
When approaching this lead or contact, use this opportunity to gather more information, not to directly ask for a job with their organisation (EVER). Be confident and clearly communicate your expertise and make sure you approach each contact with an open mind.
“Hi Bill, my name is Clinton and I understand that we have a mutual acquaintance Mary Jane. Mary Jane suggested I contact you, because of your relevant experience and knowledge of people in the industry and because I’m currently looking for new opportunities as a finance accountant. I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to briefly talk with you.”
Step Four – Follow up with a thank-you note
Send a thank-you note to anyone who takes the time to talk to you, or who helps you get an interview. Also make sure you send a thank-you note or letter to anyone who interviews you.
By taking this four-step approach, you will significantly increase your chances of networking your way into a new job.
But remember, it takes courage, not every contact will be obliging and it is important to keep the big picture in mind, so you don’t get discouraged during the process.