When it comes to managing your job search, you need to compile as many resources as possible.
Networking is crucial; meeting and interacting with the individuals who are doing the things you want to do, have the potential to employ you or put in a good word on your behalf means infinite opportunities. You can’t just chalk it up to another task on your list of job-seeking chores; it is a whole other beast entirely, which will work to your benefit whether you are employed or not. If you tend to be more introverted, now isn’t the time to be shy! In building these relationships, you’re setting down the building blocks of a new career. Whether you do it online, at a party, using LinkedIn, or through your extended family, this is the time to master the art of this ‘hustle’.
These are the not-so-obvious aspects of networking that will make or break your search.
Maintain your personal contacts.
That’s right. You’ve dusted off your little black book, updated your web presence, and gotten back in touch with your sister-in-law’s cousin: it’s time to find work! If you maintained your personal network, you never have to worry about anyone thinking that you’re just out to seek favors. And we don’t mean faking it either; be genuinely interested in what your network is up to. If you use social media (and the phone!) to keep up to date on what is happening with your colleagues, you’ll never be at a loss for individuals who will gladly be on the lookout for your next job. Following up isn’t just for after an interview. Keep in contact with the people you meet, and don’t wait until you need something to get in touch with them.
Playing matchmaker will make you valuable.
In keeping up with your network, remember that it’s not all about you! Others in your social group are also looking for their next big career move. If you have the right connections, just because the career opportunity isn’t YOURS doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hook it up for someone else. People will remember your generosity and will be more than happy to return the favor in the future. This heightens your value big time; when someone asks your contact how they got their shiny new position, they will be sure to name drop you and explain all about how you helped them out.
Make sure everyone knows that you’re looking.
There’s no point in networking unless your network knows that you’re on the hunt. Don’t assume that just because you hit Facebook and your blog mentioning that you were in the market for freelancing, that opportunities will just drop in your lap. Networking is all about being proactive. Send emails to specific point people. Casually ask your friend who works downtown if she knows of anyone hiring. You’d be surprised at what people remember when prompted. Perhaps a friend of theirs posted an ad for a new hire, but your friend missed your status update and had no idea that you were in the market for a new job. Make sure that no stone goes unturned.
Make sure everyone knows exactly what it is that you do.
This seems like common sense, but honestly, even if you’ve told someone in passing what your specialty is, they may not remember, or may not be able to confidently convey that information to someone else. Tweak your elevator pitch, constantly. Have a strong statement that describes exactly what you do so that, if prompted, your colleague can describe it to someone else. You don’t want them to say “I ~think~ he does IT Computer Programming” when what you actually do is Full Stack Web Development and Site Building.
Don’t ramble and don’t harass.
Wow! Your old pal from college got you an opportunity to chat with their friend, the CEO of a hot new start-up, and they are looking for team members just like you! You’ve got an in. Take a deep breath. Approach it calmly. Send them a confident, introductory message or have a confident, friendly phone call. Just because this is a friend of a friend, doesn’t give you the right to get overly familiar, or be super casual. Take cues from them, and interact in the manner they dictate. You’re hungry for the job, but don’t think you can hassle them nonstop as if they owe you, just because you were introduced in a less traditional way. You’re not necessarily a shoe-in for the role, so save your network the awkwardness of casting you out because of overly-entitled behavior.
So be professional, above all.
After reconnecting with your social network or meeting new people, you want to leave a great impression and have them remember you positively, considering you as a valuable asset to their team, the same way in which you view them. Reaping the benefits of a well-developed network will not only increase your odds of employment throughout your career, but also help you hone your social and professional skills.
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