You can approach job hunting in many ways. Some prefer to look through job postings and apply through the job boards/company websites, while others may rely on recruiters who have access to job openings that are not publicly made available. And then, there are those who resort to working with the people they already know – also known as networking. Job seekers have found jobs through selecting one method or by utilizing a combination of them all, but the one approach that reaps the most results in a short amount of time is often the result of networking.
Given networking has such a great success rate, let’s discuss it further. As a job seeker, if you want better results from networking, here’s what you should NOT do:
- Don’t go into networking expecting you’ll land a job.
Yes, networking can help you find the right job opportunity, but if you go into it primarily focused on getting a job and not about building relationships, you will be disappointed. Networking is very much like how we establish personal relationships. You know you can depend on your best friend to help you, but that’s because of the relationship you have established. You want to go into networking first showing an interest in the person and wanting to build a relationship – work on finding common grounds with one another. Don’t go straight in asking: “Do you have a job for me?”
- Don’t make it only about you.
Successful networking is about building a mutually beneficial relationship. There will be times you are seeking help and advice, and there will also be times your contact will do the same. What’s key is that you show a genuine interest in the person and a regular pattern of willingness to help. A good contact in return will respectively show the same willingness to help you when needed. Don’t come off as selfish, avoid creating relationships where you are always on the receiving end.
- Don’t network without a reason.
LinkedIn makes it so easy for people to send an invitation to connect, but if you are sending that invitation without a reason, it doesn’t give others a reason to want to connect with you. This is especially true when that person doesn’t know you well. For more tips on sending LinkedIn invitations to connect, read: “5 Tips to Personalizing the LinkedIn Invitation to Connect.”
- Don’t assume you can only network through LinkedIn.
LinkedIn may be popularly known as a professional networking community, but there are many other outlets where you can be networking. Consider Career Services at your school, job fairs, and professional networking events. For more on networking, read: “Networking through Alumni to Help Find Your Next Job” and “5 Ways to Break the Ice at Networking Events.”
- Don’t stop networking.
Once you build a relationship, continue to maintain it and strengthen it. Continue to periodically check in on your contacts, even just to say “hello.” Equally important is to continue to expand on your network of contacts. Work on building new relationships and look for opportunities where existing contacts can help with introducing you to new contacts to build a stronger network of relationships.
Remember that when you are job searching, your chances are improved when you come in as a referral. Not everybody in your network will come out as your referral, but by establishing a network of strong relationships, you will have more help on your side.