Many young job seekers feel chills down their spines at the mere mention of networking, mainly due to the awkward social interactions that come with it, perhaps you don’t know who to reach out to, what the right tone would be, and all those tiny little details are what make this important part of jobhunting so stressful.
Thankfully, experts like Marcia Ballinger are here to help ease the pain, with her book „20-minute Network Meeting“ explaining just how important proper networking is to advancing one’s career, regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel in the start.
She proposes a more indirect approach to network integration, advising to show interest in connecting with people and contributing rather than just going around telling people that you need a job and you need their help finding you one, as that just puts meaningless stress on people who deserve better.
Ballinger urges everyone to look around them and notice that they’re already part of a network, whether they like it or not, made of family, friends, former and current coworkers, or anyone with common interests who, with the right approach, could assist you in your search for employment.
Anything from passing along your resume to putting in a good word for you with their higher up will help you make progress, so be thankful for any good gesture these people might do, as it’s all their good will to do so.
Be direct with your interests and show commitment to your job search
Interestingly enough, as much as it’s important to show interest in the person/company rather than just being straight-to-the-point and asking for a job, a short but concise background of yourself along with a couple of paragraphs of what exactly you’re looking for can go a long way, especially if you reach out and show you want to learn more about what they as a person or a company do.
One of the most important questions in networking would be asking to meet or be introduced to other important personas from the said network, as it opens more doors for additional opportunities.
While it stands that reaching out to a friend or someone we know is much easier and fits right into everyone’s comfort zone, sometimes it’s important to search outside of your own circles if they do not offer what you’re looking for.
A bit of online research on the person can make the initial contact less intimidating, as well as present you with a couple of icebreakers should you have things in common with the person you’re reaching out to.
People appreciate modest flattery and most of them will appreciate one’s effort to put 110% into making a good first impression.
Networking meetings shouldn’t ever drag on for too long, as 20 minutes is the standard for the initial meeting, especially when you do all your research and ask the questions that will matter.
Asking „can I have a job” is never one of them, and you should rather focus on asking questions related to information that isn’t readily available on the internet, to show your commitment to the job hunt and present yourself as a thorough person that’s mindful to detail.
And finally, keeping in loose touch can help you prolong and keep your network functional, even if it isn’t a two-way exchange all the time.
A simple comment on a post, or an interesting article on a topic they might be interested in might help in forming a long-lasting relationship.