Building a Professional Network
Networking is a method for gathering names and contacting people who might be able to help you reveal employment opportunities that you may or may not be aware of. The #1 goal of networking is to generate an interview with a potential employer. To be successful in this, you should: Identify names and phone numbers of people in your chosen field/industry and schedule face-to-face meetings so you can develop job leads.
Even though we have more information than ever before thanks to the internet, many job seekers are still struggling to find satisfactory work. Most of the time a strong and reliable network can create more job leads and less stressful moments while seeking employment. To put this into perspective, 85% of recruiter’s/employment specialists say that there’s more emphasis on hiring through networks. (Belli, 2017). Overall, networking is considered to be the #1 way that people find job opportunities.
Finding people to join your professional network is easier than you might think. There are many types of people who can help you dig for job leads. Take a look at the list below for some examples:
- Workforce Agency staff
- Former supervisors
- H/R contacts
- Former classmates
- School staff
Are you able to contact 15-30 people that you know with examples from this list to start building your network?
Using social media to network is as important as in-person networking. Your social media network contacts can refer you to positions, which is considered to be employers’ most desired methods of recruiting new employees. A large majority of employers say they use social media, specifically LinkedIn, to recruit, screen, or hire people.
LinkedIn is a social network site for professionals. It is very similar to Facebook, but is used primarily for your career. LinkedIn allows you to create a professional profile, post your work experience, and develop a polished identity based on your skills, education, interests, awards, honors and background. LinkedIn also allows you to join groups, and affiliations to which you are interested in for career development.
LinkedIn will help you identify the right person to contact within a company (supervisor, hiring manager, etc.) for certain types of information or employment, acquire references, perform company research, search for work on their job board, and most importantly, locate opportunities in the hidden job market.
Be sure to gather the following tools before building your professional network:
- Current Resume
- Cover Letter
- Telephone/Email Script (aka Elevator Pitch
- Who you are
- Type of work you are seeking
- What you can offer
- Types of companies desired
- Definition of the ideal job
- Long term career objective
- Thank You Notes
- System to Organize your Contacts
Remember your goal is to develop 15 – 30 professional network contacts!
Written by: Steven Heinitz, Career Consultant, TANF