Want to Find the Right Job? Networking is Key
By: Bob McIndoe
When starting a new job search, it can be a bit daunting to determine where one should even begin. With all of the job postings out there, the options can seem overwhelming – and so can the amount of work involved in sifting through them.
But a good job search isn’t just about clicking through postings online – to find a job that’s the right fit for you, a key ingredient in your search should be networking.
For many of us, networking can seem at first glance to be quite intimidating. Approaching strangers in professional settings and trying to establish connections, usually in a limited time frame, can seem a formidable task.
In fact, almost 60 per cent of respondents to a Stanford University survey said they feel shy and unsure about what to say in a variety of business and social settings. But at the same time, about 80 per cent of all jobs are found through networking, according to The New York Times and CareerBuilder.com.
However, with a bit of practice, networking can be an invaluable way to advance your career – and to tap into the hidden job market to access potential job opportunities that may never be posted on a job site.
A key thing to keep in mind with networking is that networking connections should have the potential to be mutually beneficial to both parties. It’s not just about what this new acquaintance may be able to do for you – think about ways you may be able to assist them as well. According to Avanti Women, a key question to keep in mind when networking is “How can I help?” – not “What can I get?”
To become truly confident when it comes to networking, there’s nothing more important than practice and a bit of preparation. Practice networking whenever you get the opportunity – and be sure to have a 30-second elevator pitch prepared. If you can briefly, effectively and succinctly explain who you are and what you do, it will be much easier to create those connections and stay top-of-mind long after the conversation is over.
- Dress for success: make sure you are presenting yourself in a professional, well-groomed manner
- Get comfortable with your public speaking skills – consider joining a group such as Toastmasters to build on and improve your communication skills
- Use polite, appropriate and professional language
- Don’t dominate the conversation – ask questions about the other person!
- Make eye contact with a firm handshake – you want to appear confident and poised, even if you feel nervous.
- Always keep business cards on hand!
- It’s a good practice to follow up with an email within 24 hours.