How important is professional networking? Let’s not mince words: The answer is probably somewhere between “very” and “extremely” important. According to one study, for example:
- Around 80 percent of jobs wind up getting filled through personal and professional connections, rather than through job boards and other formal channels.
- In fact, a full 70 percent of job opportunities aren’t even made public on job sites in the first place for that very reason.
Clearly, then, an inordinately high percentage of jobs can be found from networking (and perhaps only from networking). So if you’re wondering how to network for a job, look no further. These seven tips from the hiring experts at Randstad have you covered.
networking tips to find a job
Sure, there might be new challenges for anyone networking for a job right now on account of COVID-19, but don’t let that discourage you. So if you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s some straightforward advice to help you out.
1. people are actually available
Don’t believe us? It’s true. Stats show that the average U.S. adult is now spending over 16 hours each day in the company of their phones or computers, which is an increase of almost four hours on already sky-high pre-pandemic levels of digital connectedness. So if you’re networking for a job, the takeaway should be clear: People are reachable these days — in fact, now more than ever.
2. understand your purpose from the outset
The second key to networking was just as true 10 years ago as it is right now in the midst of a global pandemic. That is, realize that networking does sometimes bring near-term benefits, but the real action generally comes downstream. In fact, that’s what networking is all about: building new connections with like-minded people. That’s it. And meaningful relationship-building isn’t easy, nor does it happen overnight.
So bear in mind that all the goodies — job referrals, employment insights, additional networking opportunities — will come later.
3. you may have to get creative
Online webinars. Virtual meetups. Social media channels. You may have to get creative, but people are available, as we’ve discussed. And if you treat COVID-19 restrictions as an opportunity for greater digital connectivity, as opposed to a barrier to building new connections, you’ll be better positioned for success.
Plus, if you’re not 100 percent sure what’s best for your next career move, we’ve put together some simple tips to help you take a more structured approach, act strategically and successfully land the right opportunity.
4. use the proper outreach channels
When it comes to selecting the right channel for your outreach, there are a few simple rules of thumb to follow. Trust us, these will help keep you in everyone’s good graces.
It’s fine to text firsthand contacts: people you know and have met before. But if someone in your current network shares the phone number of someone you should meet, don’t just dive right in. Start with a short, polite introductory text message before reaching out to them with a phone call. This is the right way to ask for an informational interview.
This is by far the most effective — not to mention the most appropriate — channel for networking right now. Plus, writing a polite introductory email is a good opportunity for you to think about your goals and priorities in a structured way. This is another smart channel to use if you’re going to ask for an informational interview.
If your goal is to network, it’s probably wise to avoid cold-calling anyone directly right now without first establishing some kind of text-based communication, or having someone from your network set up an introduction for you. Once that’s in place, you can set up a call.
It’s generally fine to reach out to relevant potential contacts on social media channels that are geared toward networking and professional development. Just be polite and clear about your goals from the outset.
5. let your new connection pick the right day and time to talk
Networking is a kind of delicate negotiation, and in order to get what you need — as any negotiator will tell you — you’ll have to make some concessions along the way. Letting the person you’re networking with choose the time and date to connect is a case in point.
Why is this important? For starters, it’s polite (and any other approach is going to feel pushy, for that matter). Keep in mind, too, that connecting with you might not be their absolute top priority, so you’re going to need to make yourself available on their schedule.
6. use the platform of their choice
Another key logistical detail: your communication platform. The key point here is that you’ll need to be accommodating. In other words, don’t force someone who barely knows you to download a new app or use a technology that’s new to them. (After all, 15 or 20 minutes of their time is generous enough, as it is, no?) Instead, ask your new contact what works best for them. Skype? Zoom? Google Hangout? Whatever the case may be, it’s your responsibility to comply with it.
7. don’t overlook your existing network
It would be a mistake to treat COVID-19-era networking as if the only goal was meeting new faces (or for that matter, new face masks). Frankly, you probably have a lot of valuable contacts in your network already. Audit your social media accounts, scroll through your phone, dig into antiquated emails — whatever approach you choose, be on the lookout for contacts you have regretfully neglected who could potentially be valuable to your career goals now.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how to network with people. After all, in this article we’ve broken down:
- why COVID-19 presents new opportunities for networking
- how to think about your purpose when networking
- creative ideas to help you get started
- the right channels to use
- a few do’s and don’ts of etiquette
- simple platform tips
- why your existing network might be clutch
Just follow the guidance we’ve outlined here and you should be all set — plus, you can always head back to our Career Resources Center if you need any more advice.