Networking is responsible for 55%-80% of employment according to an article in Independent Business Network Inc. Since the majority of job availabilities never get listed and 40-50% of positions are filled by employee recommendations, it pays to network as you’re looking for a job. Here are a few of the ins-and-outs of networking your way to a job.
Make time. Networking ultimately is a lifestyle choice. You’d be surprised at the networking opportunities you have available to you when you look for them. Using the principles outlined in “Never Eat Alone“, one of the networking bibles that Career Coach Jennifer Armitstead recommends, set aside time at lunch to network every week at mealtimes. Since you have to eat anyways, you might as well have company!
Bring business cards. While you’re not representing a company, get your own business cards printed with your contact information and your career objective and specific offerings. You can design these at your local Staples, order them through VistaPrint, or even print them off at home with Avery templates and pop-out cards. An about.me website or LinkedIn profile are both websites you can put on your card.
Develop an elevator pitch. When networking, people will ask you what you do. Prepare a 30-second elevator pitch which will highlight who you are, what you’re looking for, and the benefits you provide. Be specific in what you’re looking for and ask for it, be it a contact at the company you’d love to work for or job opportunities in your field.
Listen! After telling people about yourself, don’t forget to ask about them and what type of connections they are looking for. At its best, networking is a two-way street.
Look for ways you can help. If you’ve been listening, you’ll be able to refer business to your new contact the next time you meet someone looking for their services. As Business Networking International (BNI) teaches, it’s the Giver’s Gain. When you give and help other people, they will be more likely to look for ways to help you out.
Make a goal to talk to 3 – 5 people. If you’re new to networking, working a room of strangers may seem completely overwhelming. Instead of trying to shake hands with and give your card to everyone in the room, make a point to establish a good connection with three to five people. It will make networking far more manageable. Remember folks — quality over quantity!
Stay connected with your network. If you need to call in a favor, someone you’ve kept in touch with over the years is more likely to help you out than someone you’ve fallen out of contact with. Find ways to stay connected with your professional network, even if it’s just a quick message on their voicemail to say hello.
What’s your best networking tip?
Don’t forget to check out our blog tomorrow about Where to Network Your Way to a Job!