(Think this over.) When you apply to a job posting, you’re hoping, with fingers crossed, you’ll be the one person selected to be hired out of the 100s, sometimes 1,000s, of other candidates who also applied and are just as qualified, if not more, as you are. It’s no secret there are a lot of talented, hungry job seekers going after the same jobs.
Applying to an online job posting is like playing the lottery—you’re expecting a stranger to hire you.
Undeniable, networking is critical to conducting a successful job search. Still, it’s often avoided, especially by individuals who’ve sold themselves the limiting belief they’re an “introvert.”
As you know, there’s a hidden job market. Most jobs, especially highly desired ones, aren’t advertised. Thus, networkers land the jobs—the plumb jobs—so I might as well be straightforward. If you’re not networking throughout your job search, you either refuse to understand the benefits of networking or are not serious about your job search.
I know many “highly extroverted introverts.” Therefore, I firmly believe you can be both introverted and extroverted. A job search fact: An outgoing individual will always have a considerable competitive advantage finding employment over someone who sits behind their laptop, hoping a stranger will hire them.
A life truism:The world is made by extroverts for extroverts.
In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “The more acquaintances you have, the more powerful you are.” In contrast to your close friends and colleagues, your acquaintances—individuals you know, and more importantly, who know you—exist in an entirely different social universe. Consequently, they’re aware of jobs and networking opportunities and can introduce you to the right person that no one in your inner circle can. 83 percent of people who found their job through their network, and networking activities, did so through people they occasionally see. So those Facebook friends you haven’t spoken to in a while—it’s probably worth checking in on them.
You’ve no doubt heard it a million times: Successful job searching, and career advancement are as much about who you know than what you know. I would say today, with social media, “Who knows you is more important than who you know.” This is why those with a career you envy focus on their personal brand (aka. reputation). Thus, being a skilled networker and self-promoter is crucial to job searching and career management.
However, mastering networking/self-promotion skills requires more than just schmoozing over cheese platters and exchanging business cards. (Does anyone have business cards these days?) There’s an art to it.
Nowadays, there are so many platforms, especially social media platforms, available to network and market yourself on, that you must come up with creative ways to stand out.
Creativity aside, here are 8 networking tips to get you started:
- Start with the network you already have. Begin your networking activities (e.g., Informing that you’re looking for a new opportunity and what you can offer employers.) with relatives and friends. This will help you become comfortable with networking.
- Wear (tie, hat), or carry (purse, portfolio), something unique in colour and design that’ll start conversations.
- When you say “Hello,” smile!
- Don’t apologize for trying to build a relationship. Never say, “I’m sorry to bother you.”
- Use the person’s name throughout your conversation.
- Create an elevator speech and practice delivering it. (e.g., Hi, I’m [your first name]. I’m a software developer with 8 years of experience using C++, .NET, HTML and Java. Currently, my team customizes software for financial institutions across Canada. Recently, I completed a project that increased revenue by 32% for Gotham Payments Services, and I’m now seeking my next challenge.”)
- Read: Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi
- (Golden networking tip.) When you meet someone for the first time, ask yourself, “How can I help this person?”
When done skillfully, networking can not only help you land plum jobs, but it can also help advance your career, gain new clients, and gain access to those who can assist you.
Don’t approach networking with the mindset that you’re doing it for your own gain (the reason networking may feel uncomfortable). Embrace that successful networking depends on the give and take. (Remember, “How can I help this person?”) Networking relationships are all about adding value. As you give to others and focus on them, your network connections will reciprocate.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at [email protected].