Are you wondering what are the best job search networking strategies? Everyone seems to have an opinion these days, but some are worth more than others—especially the ideas of professionals who work on job search networking strategy every day with their clients.
To help you learn some of these battle-tested techniques, we asked career coaches, recruiters and other career professionals from CDI’s global membership the following question:
What is your favorite job search networking strategy?
As an introvert, my favorite job networking strategy is one-on-one meetings, arranged through ‘warm’ introductions made by friends and connections. By asking people you know and trust if they know anyone you should speak with about your career path, a web of connections can be built quite quickly. I recommend making it easy for potential contacts to say yes to a meeting by:
- keeping it short – request a chat of under 30 minutes;
- limiting your planned questions to the top 3 things you’d like to know;
- letting your contact know what you’d like to ask in advance.
This allows people who might think “I’m not sure how much help I can be,” to think “I can share my thoughts on those questions, and I’m not committing to anything that’s going to take up a lot of my time.” If the conversation goes well, it might naturally lead to more questions, but if not, you’ll have answers to what you really wanted to know!
– Betsy Shepard Reed, BSR Career Development
Identify the companies you want to work for. If you know any employees there, get together and talk shop. Learn the problems the company faces that you can solve and consider how you might solve them. Then try to get an informational interview with the person who would be your boss, and ask “if you had to hire someone to fill position x today, what’s the biggest problem they will face?” Then discuss how you could solve it.
– Tim Cunningham, Fast & Focused Resume Service
No selling! Networking is about creating relationships, not pitching. Attend networking events for the purpose of connecting only. If you haven’t connected with people who could end up as clients or your employer, your aim should be to let them know who want to be introduced to. This creates awareness of you, your brand, and what you’re seeking. The aim is to make a memorable impression so that, when the time comes to be referred, you’re top of mind.
– Athena Ali, The Get Noticed Coach
I recommend that clients reach out on LinkedIn and connect with current and past colleagues and former bosses to keep in touch and to let them know that you may be interested in new opportunities.
– Cheryl Harland Muller, Resumes by Design
Tap into the vast wealth of information to be found in your local Chamber of Commerce (or Board of Trade)! Not only do these organizations list their members’ contact information (think: company name, primary contact person, phone #, website, et al.) in their directories, they also hold regular networking meetings. Although the job seeker may have to pay a fee to attend these meetings, the ROI is priceless in terms of making new contacts and shortening a job search!
– Marian Bernard, The Regency Group
Call upon people who know you well and ask them if they would be willing to serve as a reference when you need to share the name and contact information of someone who knows you like they do. Call everyone you know, and the word will get out that you are in a job search.
– Jane Roqueplot, JaneCo’s Sensible Solutions
Be open to having conversations that may benefit the other person (and not necessarily you, in the short term). Look for opportunities to help. When your focus is on providing value to others, they will remember how you made them feel and will want to return the favor. It’s such a blessing to be in a position to help another person, so this strategy will also keep you energized throughout your search.
– Angela Watts, MyPro Resumes & Recruiting
One of the most effective job search networking strategies is to attend industry events and conferences. These events provide a great opportunity to meet professionals in your field, learn about the latest industry trends, and make valuable connections.
To make the most of these events, it’s important to come prepared. Research the event beforehand to find out who will be attending and identify the people you would like to meet. Prepare a brief introduction about yourself and your career goals, as well as a few questions to ask to start a conversation.
During the event, focus on building relationships rather than just exchanging business cards. Be genuine and interested in what others have to say, and try to find common ground or shared interests. Follow up with new contacts after the event to maintain the connection and continue building the relationship.
Attending industry events and conferences can help job seekers expand their network, gain new insights and perspectives, and ultimately increase their chances of finding their next job opportunity.
– Clair Levy, Precision Resumes Solutions
Networking is one of the most valuable job-search techniques you should have in your toolbox. Consistency and being willing to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there to regularly connect with others, formally and informally, is what I usually recommend to my clients.
– Renzo Maurtua-Neumann, Area CV
My favorite networking strategy is to reach out to your network and connections via telephone, email, or LinkedIn message. Set up 15-minute coffee chats to catch up, find out how they are doing, and let them know what you are up to.
– Darleen Ghirardi, Darleen Ghirardi Executive Coaching and Consulting
Engage with alumni and mentors: Reach out to alumni from your school or current mentors and ask for advice or job leads. Your mentors may have helpful insights that can help you find job opportunities.
Follow up: After reaching out to contacts, don’t forget to follow up. This can help you stay top of mind when opportunities arise.
– Gina Christiano, GC Career Consulting
What This Means for You as a Job Seeker
There are a few common themes running through these professionals’ responses around best job search networking strategies:
- Take initiative. You need to ask people for introductions and meetings, not wait for others to approach you.
- Be the first to offer value. Start conversations and new networking relationships by learning about the other person, their needs, and how you can help them.
- Use networks you already have access to. Employers, education, community involvement—all of these can add to your network, and all are commonly overlooked.
- Slow and steady wins. Be consistent, reliable, and professional. This sounds like common sense, but it’s not as common as it ought to be.
- Come prepared. Do your homework before meeting a contact. Have some idea who they are, how you might be able to help them, and how they might be able to help you going into the meeting.
Need help taking this important step?
CDI is a global professional association of the industry’s top resume writers, career coaches and other career professionals. Our robust directory will let you search for the perfect practitioner to make your successful transition. Each of the participating professionals featured in this post can be reached via their links or by searching the directory.
Special thanks to Robert Dagnall of Resume Guru for curating these tips.