You have heard it before, “You have to network to get a job,” “Networking is the key to success in the job market,” “Finding a job is all about who you know.” Well, it is true. Research shows that 63 percent of job searchers landed jobs using networking (both social and person-to-person), making it one of the most important ways to find a job.
But how do you get started? What can you do to craft a successful networking strategy? These five tactics will put you well on your way to making the online and in-person connections you need to find a job:
1. Set up a networking calendar.
Setting up a networking calendar is a tactic that many people overlook. Simply putting an event on your personal calendar, when you notice it, is not enough anymore. Be active. Much like a content publishing calendar, create a separate calendar for all of your networking events and goals.
Create measurable networking goals and list the platforms you will use to meet them. For example, week one of each month could focus on locating events to attend. Your goal might be, “Find 5 in-person networking events to attend”, and you could list “Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and referrals” as the platforms you use. Add the information for each event to your calendar and set up alerts to remind you when to attend.
The most important thing about networking calendars is that they are fluid. Do not neglect updating the calendar with events, as the month progresses. When well executed, a networking calendar can increase your networking efficiency and make your job search more successful.
2. Use social media to locate networking opportunities.
Social media is a driving force in everything we do, especially the job search. Not only can it provide a way for you to make connections, but it also provides a way to locate networking events.
Many businesses today use the hashtags #networking, #networkingevents and #networkingopportunity when holding networking events. Search these hashtags often, to help fill up your networking calendar.
Use social media to follow companies you are interested in working for. Businesses often use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as platforms for discussions about industry trends and product news. Use company chats and the comment sections to engage with members of the industry you are interested in… you never know who you will meet.
3. Conduct a social media profile audit.
You will be using social media to find events and network with people in your industry, so it is important to make sure your profiles show you in your best light.
Recent Jobvite research shows that 93 percent of recruiters will find you on social media and review your profiles… regardless of whether you give them your profile info. This makes having a clean, streamlined online presence very important.
Conducting a social media profile audit is an easy way to determine if your online presence is an asset or something to worry about. Look at each profile and make sure there are no posts or pictures that may hurt your job search. Ensure that your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn “about me” sections reflect the information that you want potential connections to know, that your posts are free of spelling and grammar mistakes and that your profile pictures are professional looking.
4. Deliver an effective, natural elevator pitch.
Social media is not the only tool you will need to execute a successful networking strategy. Now that you are prepared to to find events, participate in the social media community and make connections, you will need to know how to brand yourself to the people you connect with. In addition to business cards, your resume and your social media profiles, the best way to do this is to prepare your elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is an essential tool in a networker’s toolbox. This short, tailored message is the best way to summarize your accomplishments, goals and unique attributes.
Rather than hammering every person you meet with your elevator pitch, listen to what people have to say and take cues from the conversation. Focus on the subject of the comments and show other professionals that you are knowledgeable, rather than telling them. Then, as you reach out to people you meet online (or in person) there will be opportunities to share the information in your elevator pitch.
5. Expand, strengthen and update your networking strategy often.
These first four strategies set the groundwork for a good networking strategy, but there are many more ways to strengthen your approach. Periodically review the goals you set on your networking calendar, to determine if your strategy is being successfully implemented. If not, look for ways to either expand your reach or be more efficient with the opportunities you have.
Just like your networking calendar, your overall networking strategy is fluid. If you see something working, put more emphasis into that tactic. If something is not working, scrap it and replace it with another.
Remember, “Finding a job is all about who you know.” Measure your networking strategy’s strengths and weaknesses often and you will be well on your way to meeting the people that make a difference in your job search.