When you know few people in your professional field, networking can seem like a difficult task – to say the least. It's particularly frustrating when you're also looking for a new position.
Many jobs are filled by word of mouth, so job search networking gives you access to a hidden employment market beyond what's advertised. A well-executed networking plan can get you chatting with other professionals and making connections that can help to boost your job search results.
Even if you're experiencing an extended search, it's never too late to begin networking. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Widen your network
Don't limit your networking efforts to peers within your industry. Instead, forge connections with people in other industries and at varying levels of experience. Network with people you meet socially as well as professionally. The more people you know, the greater the probability at least one of them can hook you up with your ideal job.
2. Attend professional events
Whether you attend an online conference or a real-world event, these occasions provide an excellent way to get fresh help with your job search. Because meeting and talking to other professionals is your goal, make a point of introducing yourself to other attendees and don't be shy about striking up a conversation between event sessions.
If the event is online, consider emailing individuals on the attendee list to see what they thought of the webcast. It's a good way to spark a conversation.
Robert Half organizes many online and offline events that may provide you with professional development and job search networking opportunities — see the current list of events here.
3. Be prepared
Before you begin job search networking, prepare an elevator pitch that includes a statement of the type of role you're looking for. If you neglect to let people know you're in the market for a job, they may not think to refer you when they hear about a suitable vacancy.
Another way to prepare for job search networking is to think about the types of people you'd like to add to your professional network. Looking back to Tip #1, include people who may not be directly associated with your target role but have large, useful networks of their own.
4. Know your online etiquette
LinkedIn and other social networks have made job search networking a lot easier than it used to be. Pick up some LinkedIn networking advice to help you navigate the technology and etiquette of the largest professional network on the Internet.
The golden rule of your online presence: Don't be intrusive. An email or InMail once every week or two, max, is probably fine, but nobody wants to receive a reminder about your job search every single day! Regardless, have something valuable to say in your emails: Offer an article of interest or a potential connection, for example.
5. Polish your online reputation
Even if you conduct your job search networking in person, your connections will often run an online search for you before they'll consider referring you as a potential hire. Take the time to check out your digital reputation before you start networking. Do what you can to maximize the good that's out there about you and minimize what's less desirable.
For more job search networking advice, visit the Robert Half Career Center.