We’ve all heard the saying it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Most job opportunities are not advertised. This is called the hidden job market. Networking is the job searching equivalent of speed dating. You need to promote yourself to as many people as possible and let them know that you’re looking for a new career opportunity. Here are five ways to network your way to a new job.
A good way to meet people in your industry is to join an industry association. The organisation may hold events or functions where you can meet people in the trade and let them know about your aspirations to work in their industry or at their company.
A feature of your membership may be access to member only job listings, an email newsletter or print publication that gives you information about job listings, new businesses, products or services, trends or new legislation governing your industry.
Trade shows and events
Attending trade shows are a great way to make contacts in the industry. You can collect marketing collateral about the company’s services and products, talk to a representative at the exhibition about the industry and also attend information sessions.
Don’t just go there blindly and hope for the best. Put a game plan together and find out in advance what businesses will be attending, research the companies and vendors and make a schedule of the seminars to attend that fit best with your career goals. You should end up with a list of appointments to make, booths to visit and education sessions to attend.
A great way to network is to organise an informal interview with a decision maker in the company you wish to work for whether that be the CEO or a department manager. This is where you basically glean information about the company they work for or the industry you want to break into.
Keep the interviews to a maximum of 20 minutes. Most people will be happy to share information about their industry and help an outsider become an insider. Remember the object of the interview is to obtain contacts and get information and not ask for a job.
Social networking tools
Social media networks such as Twitter are a good way to keep abreast of what is happening at a particular company and keep in contact with your network without worrying about looking like a stalker.
With Twitter you can follow a person or company who may send out tweets about job openings, projects they are working on or new products or services they have released. There are also business networks like LinkedIn where you can add your business and personal contacts and grow a network of people and resources.
Friends and extended family
Most employers prefer to hire someone who is referred to them. Some companies even have attractive incentive schemes for employees who refer people for jobs. Tell everyone that you come into contact with that you’re looking for a new opportunity whether you’re at a family function, drinking with mates at the pub or doing weights at the gym.
The person you say hi and goodbye to at the train station or the person you make idle conversation with a family barbeque may hold the key to your future.
Once you have taken the all important step of making a contact, use touch points such as social networking tools, emails or telephone calls to keep in touch with your network to make sure they know you are enthusiastic and interested in working for their company.
If a job opportunity arises, you want to be on their radar and at the forefront of their mind. Like most things, it’s a numbers game so the more people who know you’re looking for a new opportunity, the more chances you have to land your dream job or work in your dream industry.