Following last month’s highly popular article on common resume mistakes, I’m writing this article on the biggest job seeker networking mistakes and how to overcome them. Continue reading to learn how to become a better networker and land a job you love.
What Are The Top Mistakes Job Seekers Make When Networking?
Over my decade as a career coach, the biggest networking mistakes I’ve seen job seekers make include (1) targeting the wrong people for networking, (2) being vague with your ask, (3) asking the wrong questions during informational interviews, (4) failing to follow up, and (5) not closing the loop with those who helped you land a new role.
How To Overcome Common Networking Mistakes And Network Better
Let’s dive into each of these common networking mistakes in further detail and discuss strategies to overcome them so you can find a job you love faster:
1. Network with the right people.
For starters, job seekers are often unclear on whom to target when networking, as there’s a lot of competing advice out there on the best person to contact and the best way to network with them.
While it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the company’s recruiter, you might also consider reaching out to someone in the same or similar role at the company as the one you’re targeting, since their boss is likely the hiring manager at the company and can ask them to prioritize your application. My job search clients often see the highest response rate to these peer-to-peer messages.
I often encourage active job seekers to set a key performance indicator (KPI) for themselves of sending 5-10 people networking messages for each job application they send, since so many people are landing roles by way of the “hidden job market.”
2. Get clear — and concise — with your networking ask.
Speaking of reaching out to people, you want your outreach message to be clear and concise. I’ve read and reviewed more networking messages than I can count, and they are often unclear in their ask and far too long to keep the attention of busy recruiters and decision-makers.
Try to keep your LinkedIn message to just a few sentences in length (3 is a good target). Include a clear call to action, and provide your contact info.
3. Ask meaningful informational interview questions.
Once you secure a networking meeting, you want to ask the most meaningful questions possible, which can be tricky to figure out with all the contradictory tips online. And while you can review potential informational interview questions to ask, the best ones are those that genuinely pique the other person’s interest and allow them to learn more about you.
Moreover, unlike a formal job interview, you can ask more pointed questions to really learn about the company, culture, and team.
4. Follow up after your networking meeting.
After your networking meeting, it’s important to follow up with your contact, but many job seekers make the mistake of skipping this important step, as they worry about being perceived as annoying or pesky.
However, if a contact accepts your request for an informational interview, it means they’re more than likely willing to support you with your job search; you just need to be clear with your ask. For instance, if you find a job opening of interest on their company’s Careers page, you can ask them to connect you with the hiring manager.
5. Closing the loop once you land a new job.
Finally, job seekers often get caught up in the excitement of their new jobs and forget to update everyone who supported them along the way. Closing the loop can be as simple as a quick LinkedIn message, email, or text, which will make a major impression on those who helped you land your new role.
Final Thoughts On Networking Better
On a final note, know that networking isn’t a silver bullet for landing a new job in today’s competitive employment market. However, learning to more strategically network can help you land a role faster. You’ve got this!